Empty Stocking Fund: NAMI, ESF an unbeatable team | Empty storage fund

When Shelli Mills’ teenage daughter twice attempted suicide, she turned to the Colorado Springs National Alliance on Mental Illness for help.

Thanks to NAMI CS, Mill’s daughter, who suffers from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, got the help she needed and never attempted suicide again. As a result, Mills joined NAMI to give back to the organization that helped her daughter.

“I want to help others like NAMI helped my daughter. My life changed because of them, ”Mills said.

NAMI CS is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with mental illness. It cultivates a welcoming community of peers who educate, support and advocate for individuals and families living with mental health issues.

In addition, it offers free education programs, virtual and in-person support groups, as well as resource and referral services. NAMI is able to do this, in part through its affiliation with the annual Empty Stocking Fund. The ESF provides funding to 20 local health and social service agencies in El Paso and Teller counties, on the front lines of helping people in crisis and helping others achieve self-sufficiency.

“We responded to a request in 2020 for a mental health services agency to join the fund and we were delighted to be selected as that agency. We appreciate the opportunity to complement our organization‘s year-end fundraiser and the chance to partner and learn from other nonprofits that are doing a great job in this community, ”said the Associate Managing Director Kirk Woundy.

In a survey of 1,001 local people released earlier this year, research firm Elevated Insights found 49% reporting worse emotional well-being during COVID. More than ever, people need access to a judgment-free and fully accessible community where they can learn about what themselves or their family members are going through and learn from local resources.

NAMI CS provides this while hosting presentations and participating in community forums, fairs, roundtables, educational panels and other events.

“We continue to be there for individuals and families struggling with severe and persistent mental illness, for whom the COVID era has been particularly nasty,” Woundy said.

NAMI CS free programs and support groups emphasize that mental illness is biological in origin, treatable and common with 1 in 5 people suffering from it in any given year. It breaks down into three categories.

• People living with mental illness: Peer support and connection groups provide strategies and support for adults who wish to establish and maintain their well-being in response to mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia. and depression.

• Family Members: From family to family, grassroots and family support groups serve family members of people with mental illness, providing information and resources on brain physiology, advocacy strategies and personal care.

• Community members and groups: NAMI CS offers courses designed to address the stigma of helping and educating others about the “lived experience” of mental illness.

NAMI CS has led or co-led five community-wide outreach initiatives and has built a corps of over 100 trained volunteers who teach classes, connect with the community at resource fairs and help thousands of people every year. people navigate the complex mental health system. The Empty Stocking Fund helps NAMI make this possible.

“To better serve populations facing higher barriers to care, in recent years we have started to reach out to local adolescents and communities of color. We want to be a known resource for most people with mental illness who are successful in their quest, ”said Woundy.

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