The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of children, teens, and adults with mental illness. Despite the fact that 60 million Americans experience a mental illness, society continues to carry a stigma towards anything that isn’t “normal”. Those who are depressed, anxious, or emotionally unstable are often judged in our society. For that reason, NAMI works to provide the resources that people with mental illnesses need to live healthy lives despite the obstacles they face.
Approximately, one in four adults and one in 10 children are affected by mental illness. NAMI provides resources for people of different age groups to facilitate living lives that are meaningful and rich. One of these resources, for example, is Strength of Us or StrengthofUs, a social networking community for young adults.
Those who visit the site can network and join a community where they can access support through discussion groups, blog entries, videos, photos, and more. “StrengthofUs is an online community designed to empower young adults.” This statement is highlighted on the home page, making clear its purpose and the passion behind it.
The site also provides the following:
- A crisis line for teens who need it
- Resources for those struggling with anxiety
- A sample budget for healthy finances
- A list of recovery stages from mental illness
- Articles on recent events regarding teen mental health
- Support for depression
- Healthy information on relationships
- A blog called “The Wire”
In addition to these tools, the site has an active, alive, and powerful resource for teens and that is its forum. There are a number of different groups under which teens can post their struggles. There are groups with titles such as, “Can’t stop cutting” and “Mental Healthy Disability” and “They’re so Bipolar!” Click on any one of these and find a number of different posts from various teens working through issues related to that topic. Another topic, called “We have BPD and we’re not alone” brings together teens who have Borderline Personality Disorder. And, yes, there’s even one that talks about anger – from normal aggression that teens might experience that is typical of adolescence to anger that is dysfunctional and what might be a symptom of a mental illness.
The site is an excellent resource for parents as well. At the very least, parents can read some of the forum posts to learn about how other teens are handling their mental illness, to gain perspective of what their own child might be going through, and to discover tools that might facilitate the well being of their own family.
Finally, there’s a group on mindfulness. In recent years, the mental health community has recognized the value of being mindful in one’s ability to make life changes. The more that one can be present, the more that they can become aware of the dysfunctional and harmful thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that play a role in their life.
The site is a goldmine of support for teens and their parents alike. No matter the mental condition, no matter the struggle, if it has anything to do with being a teenager, StrengthofUs has got it covered.
Strength of Us. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved on May 12, 2014 from: http://strengthofus.org/
By Robert Hunt
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Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.