During the month of May NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is launching the WhyCare? awareness campaign for Mental Health Month. The campaign emphasizes how the “power of caring” can make a life-changing impact on the more than 40 million people in the U.S. who face the day-to-day reality of having a mental health condition. The campaign is focused on increasing education, resources, and access to care.
Central to the campaign is encouraging others to learn the facts about mental illness. NAMI’s goal is to bring mental health education to all corners of our communities. With education, people can identify warning signs of mental health conditions and help someone who may be struggling.
Navigating life with mental illness can be difficult, and NAMI wants to make it easier to find resources and people who care. The WhyCare? campaign features a webpage, sharable graphics and a downloadable emoji pack for smartphones— resources that can be used as a way to reach out to someone or to show your community that you care about those with mental illness.
By caring and working together, we can create positive change. We can shift the social and systemic barriers that prevent people from getting appropriate care and treatment. We can work towards a nation where everyone affected by mental illness can find the support and care they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives.
“NAMI believes that providing education and support—and advocating for better care and treatment—is critical to getting people on a path of recovery,” said Angela Kimball, Acting CEO of NAMI. “This year, during Mental Health Month in May, we’re asking you to tell us why you care using the hashtags #WhyCare and #NAMIcares to join the conversation with examples of what you are doing personally or in your community.”
Key mental health statistics include:
- 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lives with a mental health condition.
- 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in the U.S. lives with a serious mental illness.
- 43.8 million adults in the U.S. face the day-to-day reality of living with a mental illness.
- Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24, but early intervention programs can help.
- Additional facts and citations are available at Mental Health by the Numbers.
For additional information about Mental Health Month and to access WhyCare? resources, please visit nami.org/WhyCare
Written By: Alan Johnson, NAMI Ohio Contract Writer
Danei Edelen was a nervous wreck the day she was to return to work after having a mental health crisis that required hospitalization.
“I was so scared. I laid out all my clothes and took a shower the night before to be as ready as possible. I woke up extra early to have time to ‘just be ready,’ she wrote.
On the way to work, she thought, “What am I going to say to these people? ‘Hi! I just had a psychotic break, what’s going on in your life?’”
She worried what her new co-workers would say around the coffee pot, if they would think of her like a patient from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
But minute by minute, day by day, month by month, Edelen regained her confidence and footing on the job and in life in general.
Now she is executive director of the Brown County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio. She helped create the NAMI affiliate a year ago in the rural county with few mental health service providers, but people with needs like everywhere else in the state.
“I am a thoroughly middle class mother in the heartland of Ohio,” she said “This is who I am. I was angry at the world for an extremely long time. I would verbally lash out.”
But with the help of medication, counseling, and the support of family and friends, Edelen is doing the work she wants to do – helping and inspiring others. Her seven-year journey from a breakdown to the present was bumpy, she said. She felt alone and isolated at first.
“When you walk off that psych ward, it’s like there is this red cloak with every word for crazy written on it.”
Edelen said it’s vital that people get connected to mental health providers and to NAMI. “You are not alone. That is the message,” she said
Deanna Vietze, executive director of the Brown County Board of Mental Health & Addiction Services, said Edelen came to her with the idea of forming a NAMI chapter. “The way she found NAMI was very positive,” Vietze said. “She wanted to help others.”
“She’s able to share her story and give others the hope it’s not a death sentence, that you can overcome and be a functioning member of society. It gives them a voice. They know when they’re going through something she’s been there as well.”
Vietze said rural Ohio has the same mental health issues as urban areas, but fewer resources and a problem with transportation.
On top of those concerns, people in Appalachian Ohio “learn you pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You don’t go to others for help. That often means there are families with years of untreated mental illness,”
Edelen, who lives with her husband on 13.5 acres in Brown County, is devoted to helping end the stigma of mental illness by speaking out.
“Silence does not aid understanding,” she wrote. “That is why I have come ‘out of the closet’ about my mental illness. That is why I am a presenter for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I am committed to ending the silence.”
Written By: Alan Johnson, NAMI Ohio Contract Writer
The voices in his head and hallucinations had haunted Wesley Walker incessantly for months by the time he found himself on the fifth floor of a parking garage.
The date was Jan. 3, 2013.
Suffering from chronic depression and schizoaffective disorder, Walker’s mental illness told him he was in a coma, perhaps in the hospital. He wanted to wake up, to snap out of it, to get his life back.
“I thought I could hit my head hard enough, maybe I’ll wake up,” Walker recalls thinking. At the parking garage, “I remember jumping off and falling and right before I hit I blacked out.”
For most people, that would have been the end. But miraculously – and perhaps for a greater purpose – Walker survived his leap. However, he experienced severe injuries, including a broken ankle, knee cap, femur and extensive facial damage.
Walker, now 28, today is an advocate with NAMI Ohio, telling the story of his remarkable mental health journey to school groups and others, focusing on suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
“I had this disorder since sixth grade. I consider myself very lucky,” Walker said in an interview.
One of Walker’s primary themes is “ending the silence…I tell them you are never alone in what you’re going to do. Being alone is the easiest way to get in a dark spot.”
“I want to help people before they are where I was at and do that leap,” he said.
Karen Cousins, program director for NAMI Franklin County and a NAMI Ohio board member, has worked closely with Walker to help him get out his story.
“He works at the Ending the Silence program where he goes to schools and he talks with police crisis teams. He wants to tell people what he’s gone through so he can help others,” Cousins said. “Everybody doesn’t get that second chance.”
“I think he was spared to be an advocate,” she continued. “He understands his illness. When people hear his story, it’s like “if he can do it, maybe I can give it a shot’”
Born in New York City, Walker’s family moved to Ohio when he was an infant, settling in the Hilliard area. He said he had poor social skills and experienced difficulty relating to others beginning at a young age. After high school, he attended Heidelberg University in Tiffin, but did not graduate.
By 2012, Walker was suffering from deepening depression and, although he didn’t know what it was at the time, his schizoaffective disorder was kicking in with accompanying voices in his head, delusions and hallucinations. His delusions were frighteningly real; he believed a co-worker was Jesus and imagined the tendons were being ripped out of his body.
He was hospitalized several times, went to a drug rehabilitation program, having lied to his parents that he was using drugs when he wasn’t. It was easier, he thought at the time, than telling them what was really going on in his head.
For four agonizing years, Walker went without medication, struggling through relationships with his family and friends, bouncing between jobs, and at one point becoming homeless. While his recollections of those years is hazy, Walker knows he was maced after an altercation in a bar, and later suffered a psychotic break from reality.
Finally, in 2016, Walker was prescribed an anti-psychotic medication that worked for him, beginning a recovery journey that continues to this day. Through it all, his family was tolerant, enduring and patient because as Walker puts it “they didn’t know what was going on either and after each delusion/episode my family continued to support me.”
While medication helped, Walker credits a song by the British musical group Mumford & Sons with helping him bring clarity and focus to his life. “It spoke to me, word for word. I still listen to it today.”
“The Cave” says in part:
And I will hold on hope and I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck
And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again
*Interview & Article by: Alan Johnson, NAMI Ohio Contract Writer
Tony Coder, the new executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, says it’s time to bring the epidemic of suicides out into the open.
“These are all good people. They’re not wrecked families. We need to support them and we have opportunities now to do that.”
Coder, a native of tiny Lewiston in Logan County, was appointed Feb. 25 as new head of the foundation, which is a subsidiary of the National Association on Mental Illness Ohio. The foundation is housed in NAMI’s offices at 1225 Dublin Rd. in Columbus.
Although this is Coder’s first job exclusively focused on suicide prevention, he has a long history of dealing with mental health, addiction and social service issues, dating back to his first job as pastor of the LaPointe United Methodist Church in Ottawa County. As he felt God’s calling to ministry, Coder said he felt the calling to work in other ways to help people. That led to a position with Ohio Job and Family Services, then into the administration of former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.
Coder worked for First Lady Hope Taft from 2000 to 2006, primarily on drug and alcohol issues. He guided the award-winning Smart and Sober campaign, featuring former Happy Days actor Henry Winkler.
He later worked again for Job and Family Services before joining the Drug Free Action Alliance as assistant director and later with the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities.
The decision to accept NAMI Director Terry Russell’s offer to run the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation was prompted by personal experience, Coder said, remembering when his son called him from a hospital bed after attempting to take his own life in 2017. His son was later diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and is now doing well. Coder said his son urged him to take the new job.
“I told him that there will be times I will tell your story and he was absolutely fine with it.”
“It is a personal type of journey when you have lost someone to suicide,” Coder related. “But there is a stigma and people are voiceless. I am fighting for them.”
The numbers are daunting, with suicide as the second-leading cause of death for young people 10 to 24 years old. There is also a huge surge in suicide deaths among middle-age men.
The foundation has a number of resources to help, including a peer-to-peer program, training for health care professionals, and a project with the Cleveland Clinic and Nationwide Children’s Hospital to do follow up contact with people who have attempted suicide after they leave the hospital.
Coder said he hopes the foundation can serve as a coordinating agency for a variety of suicide prevention programs like “wrapping a blanket around the community.”
The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation can be reached at 614 429-1528.
The national suicide hotline is 800 273-8255.
Join NAMI Ohio on Wednesday, May 15, for the 2019 Legislative Advocacy Day. Enjoy lunch in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium and hear inspirational speakers. Following lunch, you will have the opportunity to visit with your Senators and Representatives. Meeting one on one with your elected officials is the best way to advocate for mental health services, access, and encourage support of current bills related to mental health issues.
Click Link to Register
Click Here to Find the NAMI Ohio FY 20-21 State Budget Advocacy Document