Mental health concerns have increased substantially over the course of the last several months, as the pandemic drastically changed lives around the world. Increases in depression and anxiety are hovering in the double digits and the full impacts of the crisis are probably yet to been seen. In light of these events, it is even more critical to support services that help people and their loved ones through mental illness. In Central Oregon, we have a great resource in the Central Oregon branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The group has several programs to support its mission of improving the quality of life for “persons living with mental health issues, and their families through support, education and advocacy.” As a national organization, the NAMI team advocates for public policies that provide better funding and access to mental health services, and an array of educational programs on topics relevant to mental health.

Locally, the group offers weekly family support groups and recovery groups for individuals directly affected by mental illness. There are a number of other programs, such as connecting community members together for further support and help, partnering with professional organizations and resources for care, and a network of services for both adults and children. If you are interested in some hands-on or behind-the-scenes involvement, NAMI has an open call for volunteers – just fill out the form on the website.

The Central Oregon branch is holding a fundraiser on Saturday, May 22 for a program called “NAMIWalks Northwest Your Way.” This virtual walk is a flexible, fun way to get involved in supporting the NAMI mission and sign ups are still available here. Help them reach their goal! Funds raised will go directly toward free, top-rated programs that build community by letting people know they are not alone.

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