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NAMI returns to the mental health awareness scene

by Erin Brindle (originally published in Powell Tribune)

I work as a mental health counselor. My first interaction with mental health was as a kid in my own family; at the time, I was unaware that the behavior patterns I was seeing were signs of mental illness.

In my training as a counselor, I realized more about the nature of mental illness and the support needed for both the person struggling and the loved ones of a person with a diagnosis. In 2021, at a Suicide Prevention Meeting in Cody, I was invited to join NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness). The importance of mental health support for my family, my clients, and me motivates me to write this article. NAMI Wyoming offers education, advocacy, and support groups for families and individuals in Wyoming.

NAMI is a mental health advocacy, education and support nonprofit for people with mental illness and their families. NAMI offers support programs such as Family to Family, Peer to Peer, and Homefront for Veterans. In My Own Voice is a testimonial program of people who live with mental illness. With 650 affiliates throughout the country, numerous legislative advocates speak with your elected officials about mental health-related bills and laws. Education task forces come to schools and places of worship. Podcasts, video library, and a justice resource for people with mental illness are available on the NAMI website. An exciting partnership with law enforcement for training called Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) exists to support officers interacting with people with a mental health diagnosis.

Shea Ward

Shea Ward has been hired as the Executive Director  for NAMI Wyoming (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill).

"I am honored and excited to have this opportunity," said Shea. "NAMI Wyoming is the primary organization for information and advocacy about relevant mental health issues, advancements and progress in the field of mental illness and the leader for positive change regarding mental illness throughout Wyoming."

The organization is working quickly to bring programming and resources to Wyoming. 

This includes becoming trainers and presenters for NAMI programs such as Family to Family, a free resource for family caregivers of individuals with severe mental illnesses and holding a statewide membership meeting in October and boosting the social media presence.

"One of my first days with NAMI Wyoming was attending the national conference called NAMICon with our board President and Chair, Erin Brindle, ATR-BC, MA, LPC. " It was an amazing deep dive into all the incredible work that NAMI accomplishes  across the country," said Shea.  "We are excited to bring that work to Wyoming."

"The NAMI Wyoming Board is thrilled to welcome Shea Ward to the position of ED and welcome his passion for the NAMI mission," said NAMI Wyoming Board President Erin Brindle, ATR-BC, MA, LPC.

NAMI National Helpline

Did you know that NAMI offers a national helpline? Call 988 for help with a mental health crisis

Please support the current bill on the Wyoming House Floor: Bill 68 for request funding for 988 on an ongoing basis. We ask Wyoming Citizens to contact their State Representative by email to request in the Subject: "Vote for Supporting Bill 68"

Every person in every community nationwide can dial “988” to reach trained crisis counselors who can help in a mental health, substance use or suicide crisis. Learn how 988 can help you in a crisis and what it might mean for your community.

988 is the first step in reimagining our crisis response, but there’s more work to do to ensure everyone receives the help they need — and deserve — in a crisis.

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