In life, stressful circumstances occur. None of us will live lives without mistakes, without loss, and without the need for acceptance or the need for help from others. We age, we divorce, and we have to adapt to economic and societal changes. These challenges affect many. It is through helping one another learn and adapt that NAMI membership hopes to and indeed does provide support to its membership.

What is NAMI? What does it do? What is its purpose and importance? NAMI or the National Alliance on Mental Illness may be the most important organization you have never heard of. It is a nonprofit organization of persons who meet certain criteria. It is composed of (and for) individuals or families who have experienced or are experiencing some level of mental illness. Its purpose is to support and advocate for either themselves or affected family members. NAMI members are dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

This article is about what and how its programs help its members to serve each other as it advocates for one another and their communities at large. This article is also about Montana, our culture, our history of helping each other and lending a helping hand. Moreover, it is about the acceptance of others who experience mental health conditions which are sometimes as common as the common cold.

We would like to focus on our county of Cascade and its NAMI Great Falls affiliate. It should be understood from the outset that NAMI Great Falls is not an organization standing solely on its own. It is part of a statewide network. Hence, it’s not uncommon to gain participation from neighboring communities and counties. So who do we seek to recruit? What can you expect to gain from membership? Well, not fame. Before we go further we need to speak about the prevalence of mental illness and how Montanans are tackling this aspect of a person’s life as we promote education of mental health and wellness. Our state’s government has recently been focusing on how to advance services to our most rural members. Some counties have no available mental health counselors. As our state’s members become more aware of the prevalence of mental health problems and longevity challenges attached to such illness, a desire for ways to expand wellness and safety in our communities has grown.

That desire for education and indeed its expansion is helping to normalize mental health problems, its treatment and how to de-stigmatize programs aimed at developing wellness. Those include the acceptance of such conditions experienced by neighbors, friends and even ourselves. It has been said that kindness is its own reward, so please consider that NAMI participation and membership may be a comfortable addition to your life.

So, if you love Montana, and you love its culture and its people, then your support of NAMI may exemplify that.

For more info go to namigreat or call 406-799-5934.

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