Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Orlando (NAMIGO) has seen a more than 32% increase in calls to its helpline. In addition to the increase in calls, there has been a shift in the types of calls received – the number one request from the past six months: “Support.” Their helpline gets requests for resources and support groups, but overall, people are trying to figure out how to connect more during the pandemic. NAMIGO’s support groups include the Virtual Connection Support Group and the Virtual Family Support Group, which are for adults living with mental illness or families, peers, and caregivers of those living with mental illness. NAMIGO is a community network that provides free educational classes, support groups, and advocacy efforts for anyone affected by mental health conditions in Central Florida.
Every year for the first full week in October, NAMIGO hosts a Mental Illness Awareness Week. The goal of this week is to provide awareness that it is okay to live in recovery and to not be okay. Each year, NAMIGO aims to turn Orlando green and have educational components for the community and has different events for the community to attend. This year, Mental Illness Awareness Week begins Sunday, Oct. 4, and goes through Sunday, Oct. 11. Every day this week, NAMIGO will spotlight resources to provide the support the community needs. Mental Illness Awareness Week events will take place both virtually and in-person, with the aim to improve the mental health of the Central Florida community by fighting stigma, providing support, educating the public, and advocating for equal care. All in-person events will abide by CDC guidelines to ensure attendees’ safety.
A full schedule of the week’s events is below.
- 10/6 – Ending the Silence for Families at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. This event teaches parents in particular how to look for warning signs and deal with mental health conditions.
Meeting ID: 925-7557-0812.
- 10/7 – Consumer Picnic from 5-7 p.m. Call the office for location and to RSVP.
- 10/8 – NAMIGO Talks – Mental Health Community Leaders at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. This is going to discuss what is being seen in mental health from different vantage points throughout the community. This event will feature NAMES. Meeting ID: 914-2574-2635.
- 10/9 – Orlando Goes Green at The Wheel at ICON Park Orlando and other locations. Call the office to have your location added! All of Orlando goes green for mental health! If you see anything green, take a photo and use the hashtag #MIAW and #NAMIGO to contribute.
- 10/10 – NAMI National Day of Hope. Hope letters revealed.
- 10/10 – NAMI Florida Virtual Conference “All Together Now” from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
- 10/11 – Writer Block Virtual Open Mic from 2-4 p.m. via Zoom. Meeting ID: 819-6197-8107. Please call the office for this password.
NAMIGO’s Mental Illness Awareness Week events are free and open to everyone.
“More of us are working remotely and after hours than ever. That is producing negative mental health benefits because of all the extra hours and the work/life balance is more hectic than ever,” said Eric Welch, executive director of NAMIGO. “In terms of what we can do for each other, some of it is self-care. Know what it means to take care of yourself whether it’s yoga, reading, music, walking. Self-care is a big way we can take care of each other. Also, be the support for other people.”
Warning signs of potential mental illness include weight gain/loss, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, decreased productivity, heightened emotions or anger, and non-COVID related physical illnesses. Everyone is going through a lot right now, and Eric encourages us to engage in empathy and kindness both with ourselves and others.
If you are experiencing a crisis, please call the crisis resource (211), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255), or 911 if experiencing immediate danger.
For more information about Mental Illness Awareness Week or if you would like to schedule your own mental health resource education presentation, please visit NAMIGO.org.
Photos Courtesy of namigo.org