Into the Light: Non-profit Highlight
Today, Unfilled Spaces will start a series of posts highlighting a few of our favorite non-profit organizations. Maddie and I have various passions and interests, so we are excited to share some of these with you. Right from the start, I am going to cheat a little. I could not pick one of the following organizations over the other.
As you probably already know, one of my passions is raising awareness and education regarding mental illness. Advocating to reduce the stigma around mental illness is crucial to me. Everyone's story is valuable, but some stories are more complex to discuss than others. Active listening is a tool we should all try to develop and not just listen to fix someone or make them more like ourselves. People want to know they are being heard and understood. People need to know they matter even when they feel all hope is lost.
Being willing to keep the doors open for honest communication can lead us to real solutions.
Why should we have conversations about mental health? Living in a broken world leaves us with broken surroundings and circumstances. We can see this play out in our physical, spiritual, and mental health.
According to the CDC, suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death for 10-14 years of age and 25-34 in 2020. The statistics are astounding. There is a strong possibility that someone you know has thought about suicide, attempted suicide, or succeeded in their attempt. Mental health issues can affect the health and well-being of family members, friends, churches, and communities, not just the individual who is experiencing mental health concerns.
The meaning of the following words from the Webster's Dictionary included in The House Mental Illness Built provides the framework for our actions.
AWARENESS: the quality or state of being aware: knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists.
COMMUNICATION: a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.
EDUCATION: the action or process of educating or of being educated.
STIGMA: a mark of shame or discredit
HELP: to give assistance or support to (someone): to provide (someone) with something that is useful or necessary in achieving an end.
AFSP and Nami are organizations that provide useful and necessary assistance in achieving a greater knowledge of suicide awareness and prevention.
AFSP offers opportunities for assistance, education, and prevention, as well as volunteer opportunities. For example, Out of the Darkness Walks, Campus Walks, and Overnight Walks give participants a safe space to speak up about their experiences, support friends and family, and raise funds for the fight against suicide.
We will be walking at an Out of the Darkness Walk in Birmingham on November 6, 2022, at 2:30. You can sign up to walk with us here.
NAMI provides support and education to those on their mental illness journey. Nami connection is a support group for individuals who experience mental health conditions. NAMI also has a family support group for families and friends of those who experience mental health conditions. Both are essential components to support, healing, understanding, and encouragement at any stage of one's mental health journey.
In dealing with mental health, sometimes the obstacles seem overwhelming. Both organizations are working to increase awareness, communication, education, and help/resources while reducing the stigma around these conversations.