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NAMI Offers Free Virtual Support Groups Because Because 'Mental Health Care Is Health Care'

NAMI Northern Illinois

Through support, education, advocacy and hope, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families who live with mental illness. But because of the coronavirus, NAMI has not been able to offer in-person support groups since March.

Danielle Angileri is the executive director of the northern Illinois NAMI branch. She said, until it is able to safely reopen, NAMI is offering a variety of virtual support groups along with presentations and educational opportunities that are "free of charge."

She said there is a difference between virtual support and virtual therapy. 

"I think virtual support is a little bit unique because it's all peer-led," she said. "We've had people trained that either live with their own illness or support someone that lives with an illness."

Angileri explained that NAMI helps virtual support group leaders prepare for their roles.

"We train them through our national guidelines, so they go to NAMI-Illinois for the training," she said. "They're all trained a little bit differently depending on which group they lead. But they may also have some background in mental health, too." 

Credit NAMI Northern Illinois

The virtual support groups aim to help people, including their caregivers, cope with the stressors of the coronavirus.  Angileri said they offer virtual support groups at least once a week.

"Every Monday, we have a support group for people that are on the front lines with COVID-19," she said. "We just wanted to make a safe place for them every Monday at 6:30. And then every Tuesday, we have an adult group hope support group, which is for people living with their own mental health conditions and concerns." That group, she said, is open to anybody, not just frontline workers.

Angileri said people should not be afraid to reach out for help when troubled because mental health care is health care.

To learn more about the NAMI's virtual support groups for June, click here

Angileri also encourages people to visit their Facebook page for regular updates. And you may call the office "resource room" Monday through Friday from 9:00-2:00 p.m at 815-963-2470. Angileri said, "It's not a crisis line; it's more of a resource and support line." 

The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.