NAMI DuPage County

NAMI DuPage County

NAMI DuPage provides support, education and advocacy to individuals and families impacted by mental illness. We offer free mental health education to more than 15,000 area students each year through a program we developed and is now used throughout the US.

Youth Mental Health Crisis in America: What Everyone Can Do to Help
NAMI DuPage engages youth in its annual Run/Walk
Photo Caption
Running for the Mind: NAMI DuPage engages youth in its annual Run/Walk
Photo Credit
Geri Kerger

The statistics are alarming: *30-40% of students have experienced anxiety/depression * 9% of high school students have attempted suicide * Suicide is the second leading cause of death of children aged 10-14. Our youth, our future, are facing unprecedented challenges that impact their mental and emotional well-being. The pressures of academics, social dynamics, and the ever-evolving digital landscape have taken a toll on their mental health. It is our duty to provide them with the tools they need to lead healthy and productive lives. For the last 15 years, NAMI DuPage has been providing mental health programs to nearly 100,000 students, teachers and parents. The program developed by our NAMI affiliate, is now used at other NAMI affiliates across the US. For the last several years, we have developed and implemented mental health programs at younger ages so that we now provide services for grades 5-12. What is unique about our presentations is that one of our speakers is a person with "lived experience of mental illness." They tell their story, which often begins with developing symptoms in high school and undergoing many years of turmoil before landing on a path to recovery. Hearing from someone with a diagnosis dispels many of the myths surrounding mental illness, and also gives hope for recovery. It is often the speaker's story that brings students to disclose their feelings, and sometimes their suicidal plans. We know that our programs help students get professional care, and provides resources and support to parents, but most of all, it gives hope for recovery. In addition to our education programs, we also offer free support groups for teens, and many types of mental health/substance use workshops. We hope to bring our programs to more underserved communities; provide mental health education to more teachers, coaches, park district personnel, and others who work with children. And, with assistance, we hope to open a teen drop-in center in the near future. The center would provide a space space after school and in the summer where students could gain mental health skills and support. All of us can play an important role in improving youth mental health by supporting mental health organizations through donations or volunteering, encouraging healthy eating and exercise, limiting and supervising social media usage, and advocating for laws that improve the lives and bring justice to those impacted by mental illness.

NAMI DuPage County
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