Douglas County non-profit launches outreach effort for mental health awareness month
SUPERIOR, WI. (KBJR) - If you’re struggling to maintain your mental health, you’re not alone.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a non-profit in Superior wants to help.
When Superior resident Chrissy Barnard first started experiencing mental health struggles, no one seemed to know what was wrong.
“I started struggling with my mental health in high school but I didn’t really realize it at the time,” said Chrissy Barnard, President of the Douglas County chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
According to Barnard, in her early adulthood, things went from bad to worse.
“I was eventually committed to Winnebago, one of Wisconsin’s mental health hospitals. I lost my fiancé, my home, my pets, and my job, everything during that time,” said Barnard.
So she moved from rural Wisconsin to the Twin Ports several years ago and things started turning around with the help of NAMI.
“I found a NAMI support group in Duluth at that time,” said Barnard.
NAMI provides support, education, and advocacy for people affected by mental illness.
It helped Chrissy Barnard turn her life around.
“My life started to get better and better and better over time,” said Barnard.
NAMI provides peer support meetings for people struggling with their mental health.
Now Barnard doesn’t just attend those meetings, she leads them.
She’s the President of the Douglas County chapter of NAMI.
According to county officials, organizations like NAMI can help people address mental health issues before they reach crisis level.
Dave Longsdorf is the Deputy Director of Health and Human Services for Douglas County, he’s said it’s not just the work NAMI does, but the awareness it raises that can make a difference.
“I think any awareness is incredibly important because it normalizes mental health,” said Longsdorf.
According to Longsdorf, early access to mental health treatment can make all the difference.
“If you can get help at the front end of when you’re starting to have problems, things go so much more smoothly,” said Longsdorf.
And for Barnard, thanks to the help of NAMI, now she’s in control.
“Things are just going wonderful, it’s almost like you gotta pinch yourself because you don’t believe it,” said Barnard.
If you or a loved one is at risk of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text MN to 741741.
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