10 posts tagged “NAMI”

Mental Illness Awareness Week: More understanding, less stigma

Posted October 5th, 2016 by

Did you know it’s Mental Illness Awareness Week? Or that tomorrow, October 6, is National Depression Screening Day? Each year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) works to overcome stigma and provide education and support for those living with mental illnesses.

Whether you’re living with mental illness, know someone who is, or just want to do your part to help change the way the world sees mental health, get involved by taking the #StigmaFree pledge.

But first, check out this roundup of stories, study results, and more from the past year — all inspired by members from PatientsLikeMe’s mental health community:

 

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Patients as Partners: Allison shares her insight on teaming up with organizations

Posted June 15th, 2016 by

Allison (center) receiving the 2015 “In Our Own Voice” Presenter of the Year award from the Dallas Police Department

This year’s Team of Advisors has been sharing how they use the Partnership Principles in their health journeys. Today, we hear from Allison, who’s living with bipolar II. Allison is a volunteer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Dallas and also runs support groups for the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). See what she has to say about the two principles that she relies on most in her relationships with these organizations, and what she’s learned along the way: “I realized I could use MY voice to help others.”

Can you tell us a little about the different organizations you’ve partnered with?

I have been working as a volunteer with NAMI Dallas. NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I was on the NAMI Dallas board of directors. NAMI has affiliates in every state. They have programs for family members and for people living with a mental illness. I am a volunteer scenario trainer for Dallas Police Department. The scenario training is part of a 40-hour class that the officers take, focused on Crisis Intervention Training. I am certified to run support groups for DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance).

How did you initially get involved?

After being diagnosed with bipolar, I wanted to find other people who were living with similar conditions. I started attending support groups and taking classes at my local NAMI and DBSA organizations as a way to find support and learn about my mental illness. After attending many NAMI meetings I was asked if I would go to training to become a support group leader. Shortly after starting new support groups I was sent to St. Louis for training to become a teacher for their program Peer to Peer.

I also took a class that NAMI offers called, “In Our Own Voice.” This class helped me put my life story together so that I can organize my thoughts to share my story with others. After a few years of teaching and leading groups I was asked to tell my story to a group of firemen. The firemen and women were new recruits and I was there to give them some insight about mental illness and ways to be helpful when faced with mental illness calls. That talk was the beginning of something new for me. I realized I could use MY voice to help others.

I have been volunteering with the Dallas Police Department each month by doing scenario training. We create scenarios the law enforcement officers encounter on a regular basis. Our goal is to teach them new ways to work with people who show signs of mental illness. At the end of the week I share my life story with class of officers. It is an amazing experience when I have the chance to work with them and then share my story because they have no idea, all week, that I am a person who lives with mental illness. I was awarded the 2015 In Our Own Voice presenter for the Dallas Police Department, and that was a very memorable moment for me.

What are the dos and don’ts you’ve learned about how to effectively share your story so people will listen?

I have learned to share my story only when people are interested, if I am asked, or if I feel I will be helping someone by sharing my experiences. The most helpful thing I did to get me started telling my story was to take the “In Our Own Voice” class through NAMI because it helped me learn how to organize my thoughts. As time has progressed I have learned how to tailor my story for the specific audience I am speaking to.

Allison volunteering as a scenario trainer for the Dallas Police Department

Have any of the Partnership Principles you developed with the Team of Advisors helped you in your work with organizations like NAMI or the police department?

I would say “Respect each Partner” is something that resonates with me as I think of my journey. I have learned when I need to say no to a speaking engagement if I am feeling overwhelmed. I feel very fortunate that the wonderful people at the police department understand and respect me enough to not push me to over extend myself. They are actually better about making sure I am not overextending myself than I am.

“Reflect, evaluate and re-prioritize” is another partnership principle I live by. I have learned it is okay to move on when a relationship is no longer working for the good of both parties. I remember how difficult it was to step down from my position on the NAMI Dallas board of directors. I had been serving for over two years and felt that I wanted to put my energy into my training. I realized in order to stay healthy, I cannot overextend myself, and that meant giving up something if I wanted to take on a new role.

What advice do you have for other patients who want to learn more about partnering with organizations?

Be creative! I NEVER imagined what attending support groups was going to do for me. I would never have met some of my closest friends or had the opportunities to work with some of the best organizations if I didn’t go to that first meeting. Each time I tell my story, it helps me work on my recovery to a healthy life. I encourage everyone to try something new and see where it takes you. You will probably be surprised.

 

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Meet Allison from the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors

Posted November 20th, 2015 by

Meet Allison, one of your 2015-2016 PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors. Allison is living with bipolar II, has been a PatientsLikeMe member since 2008 and is a passionate advocate for people living with a mental health condition. Refusing to let her condition get the best of her, she partners with her family to self-assess her moods and tracks her condition on PatientsLikeMe where she’s been able to identify trends. She also gives back to others through her advocacy work on the board of directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Dallas, where she lives, and currently with the Dallas police, helping train officers with the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program. Additionally, she works with the Suicide Crisis Center of North Texas helping to implement a program called Teen Screen and has shared her story of living with mental illness to groups and organizations all over the state of Texas. She even testified to the Texas State Legislators about the importance of mental health funding.

A former teacher, Allison is going to graduate this November with a master’s degree in counseling. Sharing about her journey with bipolar II has enabled her to live a life of recovery. This has also fueled her to empower others to share their own stories.

Below, Allison talks about her journey, advocating for herself and reaching out to others.

How has your condition impacted your social or family life?

Living with bipolar/mental illness has had a huge impact on every part of my life, social, family and work. My family has had to learn (along side me) how to cope with my changing moods. My moods do not change instantly but they can change within the day, week or month. When something triggers a mood change for me, and that trigger can be unknown, my physical demeanor can change. When I show physical signs of changing, such as withdrawing and I am starting to isolate (a sign of possible depression) or when my speech picks up and I start to lose sleep (a sign of hypo-mania) my family will ask how I am feeling, without being judgmental, as a way for me to self evaluate my moods. I have lost many friendships due to my depression. When I have isolated for months at a time some of my friends have stopped coming around. Nobody calls. It seems like I have nobody in the world to turn to and that just adds to the darkness of depression. I have learned it is my responsibility to let people know what I am going through so that they can be there for me when I need them most. The hardest part of this is letting people know that I live with this thing called bipolar and I need help from time to time. It is very frightening to be vulnerable because I do not know if people will be willing to stay with me through the ebb and flows of my illness.

Recount a time when you’ve had to advocate for yourself with your provider.

There have been a few times that I have had to advocate for myself while living with bipolar/mental illness. The one time that I will never forget and took the biggest toll on my well being was dealing with my insurance company. There is a medication I take that is VERY expensive and there was not (and still not) a generic form of this medication. There is however a medication that is in the same family/class as the one I need to take. The problem is, I DID take that other, much cheaper, medication for an extended amount of time and found myself in a mixed episode (when I was hypo-manic as well as depressed at the same time) and I was close to hospitalization. My doctor wanted me to try a medication that was fairly new on the market. To my surprise it was the medicine that worked for me. I became stable and life was good for a long time. Earlier this year (2015) my insurance company wanted to put me on the older medication, due to the price of the current drug. I explained the problems and asked that they reconsider their decision. I was devastated when then informed me that I would HAVE to go back to the old medication or pay out of pocket for the newer medication. My husband and I decided to dig deep into the wallet for a month and purchase my medication while attempting to appeal the insurance companies decision. We lost the appeal so I went back to the medication they chose for me (because I could not afford the monthly cost of the newer drug). It was no surprise when I started to feel the effects of the cheaper medication and felt like I may end up in the hospital because the depression was getting too bad for me to live with. I made another appeal and this time they told me the expensive drug was out of stock but when it became available I could have it. With relief in the air I dug into my wallet, yet again, to purchase another month of the newer drug to get me started until it became available. To my dismay they told me it was STILL on back order from their distributor. I am fortunate enough to have a friend who is a pharmacist in that part of the country, so I called and asked her. She did the research and found out it was never on back-order, but there may have been a recall for a different dose many months earlier and that should NOT have effected my request. I immediately contacted my insurance company with the facts I found out through my research and without question, I had my (expensive) 90-day prescription delivered to my door the next day with signature required. There were no questions asked. It infuriated me that I had to do that much work and put my mental health / well being in jeopardy for the sake of the dollar. Not everyone can advocate as I had to do, so when I can I will step up and help those who struggle and do not see a solution to their problem. I know how that feels because there was a period of time I did not feel there was an answer to my problem until I had to be creative and advocate.

How has PatientsLikeMe (or other members of the PatientsLikeMe community) impacted how you cope with your condition?  

Words cannot explain the importance and the role PatientLikeMe has played in my well-being while living with bipolar and mental illness. I do not even recall how I found PLM in 2008, but when I did I started my work right away. I started charting and graphing. I have to say, part of it was because it was fun to see up and down on my graphs after a few days. Then it was a challenge to get 3 stars. When I fell to 2 stars I was frantic to get my 3 stars back and then it started to really come together for me. I started to see my actual mood cycles. After a few years I started to recognize my mood cycle in March and it is a time of year my doctor and I start to become proactive ahead of time. After all of these years I cannot possibly remember when I took a medication or why I stopped taking it. Now I am getting much better at giving myself better details about each medication, which in turn helps the community, as a whole, learn more. PLM has supported me emotionally by standing by my side as I do fundraising walks in my community for mental illness and suicide prevention. PatientsLikeMe has made generous donations on my behalf, sent team shirts for us to wear and in return I have been able to spread the word about PLM and what a difference it makes to me and thousands of others. I feel honored and blessed to be on this year’s team of advisers. I want to help make a difference in the lives of others, like PLM has done for me.

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Mental Illness Awareness Week: #IAmStigmaFree

Posted October 5th, 2015 by

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) spends the first full week of October fighting stigma, offering support, educating the public and advocating for equal care for those living with a mental health condition. While these are a year round focus for them, this week highlights mental illness awareness and 2015 marks its 25th anniversary.

#IAmStigmaFree
This year’s theme revolves around building momentum through the new StigmaFree initiative. Being stigma free means:

  • learning about and educating others on mental illness
  • focusing on connecting with people to see each other as individuals and not a diagnosis; and most importantly
  • taking action on mental health issues and taking the StigmaFree pledge.

Did you know…

  • 1 in every 5 adults – 43.7 million – in America experiences a mental illness.
  • 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
  • Nearly 1 in 25 adultsapproximately 13.6 million –in America live with a serious mental illness.[1]

Mental Illness Awareness Week encourages people to come together to improve the lives of the tens of millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

How can you get involved?
You can learn how to spread awareness this week on the NAMI site. You can involve friends and family in a movie night, book club or awareness day at work or school. Share your story on the You Are Not Alone page. Engage your community in advocating for mental health. Learn the facts. Or join a NAMI Walks team.

National Depression Screening Day
Held on October 8th, during Mental Illness Awareness Week, National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) is comprised of awareness events that include an optional screening component.

National Depression Screening Day began in 1990 as an effort by Screening for Mental Health (SMH) to reach individuals across the nation with important mental health education and connect them with support services. Today, NDSD has expanded to thousands of colleges, community-based organizations, and military installations providing the program to the public each year.

So however you choose to get involved this week, don’t forget to log in to your PatientsLikeMe community to continue sharing your own stories with others.

Let’s fight stigma, together.

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http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers [1]


It’s time to recognize mental illness in October

Posted October 6th, 2014 by

Think about this for a second; according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) 1 in 4 people, or 25% of American adults, will be diagnosed with a mental illness this year. On top of that, 20 percent of American children (1 in 5) will also be diagnosed. And so for 7 days, October 5th to 11th, we’ll be spreading the word for Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW).

What exactly is a mental illness? According to NAMI, A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. [They] are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.”

There are many types of mental illnesses. The list includes conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar II, depression, schizophrenia and more. MIAW is about recognizing the effects of every condition and learning what it’s like to live day-to-day with a mental illness.

This week, you can get involved by reading and sharing NAMI’s fact sheet on mental illness and using NAMI’s social media badges and images on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #MIAW14 if you are sharing your story online. And if you’re living with a mental illness, reach out to the mental health community on PatientsLikeMe – there, you’ll find others who know exactly what you’re going through.

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Did you know it’s Mental Illness Awareness Week?

Posted October 4th, 2013 by

NAMI awareness

The U.S. Congress has recognized the week of October 6th as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), and if you or anyone you know is living with a mental health or neurological condition, it’s time to raise awareness and share your experiences.

Serious mental illnesses cover a lot of different conditions (including depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), and they affect almost five percent of U.S. adults, millions of people.[1] What’s more, the symptoms for each condition described as a mental illness vary greatly. We all have a lot to learn about living with mental illness, and here at PatientsLikeMe, we believe one of the best ways we can live better is through sharing our journeys with one another.

So what else is going on during the week? For starters, MIAW coincides with National Depression Screening Day on October 10th, and you can find out more information about various screenings on the Screening for Mental Health website. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has dozens of other activities planned, and if you are wondering what you can do to help, check out their list of suggestions. You can even share the NAMI’s promotional poster with your friends and family.

The mental health community on PatientsLikeMe loves to chat about everything from general mood updates and photo-blogging to Ryan Gosling, and this week is the perfect time to join the conversation. On PatientsLikeMe, there are over 50,000 members sharing their experiences in the mental health and behavior forums – click here to add your voice to the community today.


[1] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/pdf/NSDUH-SMI-Adults.pdf


Mental Illness Awareness Week 2012: Dismantling the Stigma

Posted October 11th, 2012 by

Did you know that one in four adults – or approximately 57.7 million Americans – experiences a mental health problem in any given year?  Or that one in 17 lives with a serious, chronic mental illness?

It's Mental Illness Awareness Week

Since 1990, National Mental Illness Awareness Week has been recognized by the U.S. Congress as a time for mental health advocates and patients to join together for various awareness-raising activities. Sponsored by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the goal of this week is to transform the way we think about mental illness, which is defined by NAMI as “a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning.”

Important Phone Numbers to Have on Hand in the Event of Mental Health Crisis

Like any other medical condition affecting a particular organ, mental illness is not caused by personal weakness or character defects, and it can affect individuals of any age, race, religion or income.  As an example, some famous people who are known to have lived with mental illness include Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Gandhi, Tennessee Williams and Mike Wallace (who was eulogized by one of our members last June).  Below is a new PSA ad for National Mental Illness Awareness Week 2012 that focuses on some of these legendary icons, stressing that “you are not alone in this fight.”

But what about feeling like no one understands what you’re going through?  That’s where finding others like you – such as those with the same diagnosis (or diagnoses), symptoms or treatment side effects – comes in.  At PatientsLikeMe, we have tens of thousands of patients sharing their experiences with more than 60 mental health conditions, including:

In addition to exchanging in-depth treatment evaluations about the effectiveness and side effects of commonly prescribed medications such as Cymbalta, Klonopin or Wellbutrin, our members are connecting and supporting each other daily in our Mental Health and Behavior Forum.  Currently, there are more than 39,000 participants and more than 333,000 posts in this highly active forum, where you can find answers, empathy, humor and thought-provoking conversations day or night.

Get to know our mental health community – including what depression feels like to them or how PatientsLikeMe has helped them be more open about their condition – today.  Also, stay tuned for some tips from our community about what to do and not do when interacting with someone who is living with a mental health condition.


Mental Illness Awareness Week: What Does Depression Feel Like?

Posted October 4th, 2011 by

It's Mental Illness Awareness Week, Sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Since 1990, the first week of October has been recognized as National Mental Illness Awareness Week by the U.S. Congress. Under the leadership of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental health advocates across the country are joining together this week to sponsor numerous awareness-raising activities based on the theme of “Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives.”

Here at PatientsLikeMe, we have thousands of patients sharing their experiences with more than a dozen mental health conditions, including 7,699 patients who report major depressive disorder and 1,638 patients who report postpartum depression. What do they have to say? Below is a “word cloud” of some of the most commonly used phrases on our mental health forum. The most popular single word, by the way, is “meds.”

A Word Cloud of Some of the Most Commonly Used Phrases in Our Mental Health Forum

This graphic (which you can click to enlarge) gives you a feel of the many emotions, concerns and thoughts that surround the topic of mental health.  But the best way to increase awareness and knowledge, we believe, is to learn from real patients.  According to NAMI, one in four adults experiences a mental health problem in any given year, while one in 17 lives with a serious, chronic mental illness.

To help show what it’s like to live with depression, we thought we’d share some of our members’ candid answers to the question, “What does your depression feel like?”

  • “My last depressive state felt like I was in a well with no way to get out.  I would be near the top, but oops….down I go.  I truly felt that I would not be able to pull myself out of this one.   I felt hopeless, worthless and so damn stupid, because I could not be like other people, or should say what I think are normal people.”
  • “It feels like living in a glass box.  You can see the rest of the world going about life, laughing, bustling about, doing things, but they can’t see you or hear you, or touch you, or notice you at all, and you cannot remember how to do the things that they are doing, like laughing, and just being ordinary and satisfied with it.  You are totally alone although surrounded by people.”
  • “It feels like walking in a dimly lit hallway (or totally black, depending on the severity) with no exit in sight and no one else around.  You keep walking hoping to come to the end, trying to feel along the walls for some sort of door that will take you out of this tunnel, but to no success.  At the beginning you feel like there has to be an end or a door of some sort – something to get you out, but as you keep walking, your hopes damper by each step.  You try yelling for help, but no one hears you.”
  • “Depression is very much like feeling as if I have no arms nor legs and (what’s left of) my body is upright in the middle of a road on a cold, dark, foggy morning.  I can’t run.  I can’t walk or crawl.  In fact, I have no options.   I have no memory of how I came to be there.  I know I’m going to die, I don’t know when or exactly how.  There’s nobody around who sees me or understands my situation. If somebody gets close by and I scream, they’ll run away in fear.  My family has no idea where I am and I’m alone… except for the headlights down the road.”

Can you relate to any of these descriptions?  If you’ve battled depression, we encourage you to join our growing mental health community and connect with patients just like you.  Also, stay tuned for another blog later this week about the types of data being shared by our mental health members.


Photo of the Week: All Ages in Motion

Posted August 4th, 2011 by

When our members organize a run/walk/bike team sponsored by PatientsLikeMeInMotion, it’s often a family affair involving multiple generations. Below is a great shot of member Hapeone along with her daughter at the 2011 National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk in Dallas, Texas.

PatientsLikeMe member Hapione and her daughter at the 2011 NAMI Walk in Dallas

Congrats to Hapeone and all of our sponsored teams for your efforts to raise funds and awareness for your condition. We’re honored to support you every step of the way.  For more inspiring PatientsLikeMeInMotion team photos, check out our new Flickr slideshow.

Organizing a team for this fall?  Sign up for PatientsLikeMeInMotion today.


Flickr-ing PatientsLikeMeInMotionTM

Posted August 30th, 2010 by

Ever wonder what your fellow members were up to on their sponsored walks and runs in various states across the country? Last week, PatientsLikeMe launched a Flickr page for the PatientsLikeMeInMotionTM program. Now you can see photos of members just like you in motion!   We are excited to share the experience of sponsored teams and three-star members with everyone.

Since its inception in 2009, PatientsLikeMeInMotionTM has sponsored more than 115 teams across seven disease communities.  With over 2, 100 participants to date, the program has given many members the chance to demonstrate their PatientsLikeMe spirit as well as connect with others who have shared similar experiences.

It’s always great to see how PatientsLikeMe members are just as passionate offline as they are online.  Now, everyone can catch a glimpse our members in action from New York to Ohio to California!  The PatientsLikeMeInMotionTM Flickr page currently hosts photos from walks in the ALS, MS, Parkinson’s, Transplants, Fibromyalgia and Mood communities…with more to come.  We are proud to feature events such as The National MS Society‘s “Walk MS” series, ALS Association’s “Walk to Defeat ALS” series, Parkinson’s Unity Walk, and events run by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (just to name a few). Have photos you would like to submit? We would love to see them.  Email us.

Thank you to all the members who have contributed their time and photos to PatientsLikeMeInMotionTM. You continue to inspire others.  And thanks to all the members of the PatientsLikeMe community for continuing to share.