NAMI 2022 State Conference Discusses Impact of Recent Events on Mental Health | KTVE
BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Mental health professionals from across the state discuss some of the biggest events of recent years and the impact they have had on our mental health at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 2022 State Conference.
The past few years have not been easy for anyone, which is why the conference theme was “Rebuilding Healthy Communities”.
“Mental health has been tested like never before,” said NAMI Peer Support Specialist Jessie Smith.
He lives with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
“You’re pumping money into gas companies, you’re pumping money into technology, what about us?” Smith asked.
He inspires others with his story across the state, including at the NAMI state conference.
“I was told I couldn’t get over it because of my race and my economic background,” Smith said.
NAMI Louisiana executive director Lashonda Williams said mental health professionals and social workers are working to pull Louisiana out of the pile of problems that have accumulated over the past few years.
“Mental health is a very important factor in this community and in our world, and now we know that since all these disasters and events, more and more people are talking about their mental illness. So we’re just trying to figure out how we can work together as a community,” Williams said.
Smith said after 19 years of sobriety, the pandemic has challenged him.
“I relapsed when COVID hit. Do you know what I was thinking? I thought, ‘Boy, if everyone’s going to die, I might as well die drinking,'” he said.
According to NAMI, if you are struggling with mental illness, you are not alone. One in five American adults suffers from mental illness and 17% of children between the ages of 6 and 17.
“There is an increase in suicide rates among children. So it’s really important for us to make sure we get the help we need to bring these resources to schools and make it easier for parents,” Williams said.
Smith said helping people is her passion.
“Hang on and get educated,” he said.
NAMI supported several bills during the legislative session, such as Senate Bill 61, which would provide people with mental health with a special symbol on their license plate to show that they are not alone and to help inform law enforcement.
If you are someone who needs help or know someone who needs help, the NAMI Helpline can be contacted at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or [email protected] .org.