You Are Not Alone: NAMI Supports Mental Health of Clevelanders During COVID-19
By Amber Robinson, Helpline Coordinator
Everything is going to be okay. This is a familiar phrase that we all have likely used at some point in our lives to console a family member, friend or perhaps even ourselves to push through difficult times.
Since COVID-19 began, it’s something I’ve had to tell myself once, twice and sometimes three times a day to control the fear and anxiety that I have experienced since this all began. Some days I really struggle to find comfort in it. While other days, it’s all I need to keep moving along in my day.
But when responding to calls as Helpline Coordinator at NAMI Greater Cleveland (National Alliance on Mental Illness), I know the reason the individual is often calling is because this phrase isn’t working for them or their loved ones anymore. They may have tried each and every gimmick they have in their wheelhouse to get by, but at this point they are reaching out for help. Something we as humans often struggle to do.
While the NAMI Greater Cleveland helpline has been an available mental health resource since 2005, this year has brought a new set of calls with it.
These new calls are from Clevelanders who are facing unmanageable anxiety and stress. Clevelanders who are experiencing feelings of total isolation and overwhelming loneliness. Clevelanders who know someone feeling hopeless and don’t know how to help them.
Sometimes I can manage these calls by giving out quick but important coping tips to use during this time. Other calls are more individualized and can lead to me walking someone through how to find a therapist for their daughter or the best way to identify supportive housing for their brother living with bipolar or schizophrenia.
No matter what your question or concern is, NAMI Greater Cleveland welcomes these calls and empathizes with each individual’s situation. Clevelanders are reaching out for help more than ever, and we find great comfort in the fact that we are working as a team to understand what people are going through and answer each and every question the best we can.
In addition, NAMI’s support has gone virtual during this time. We’ve implemented a new chat feature on our website to make our helpline more accessible to everyone. We’ve also transitioned our free support groups for those living with or caring for someone with a mental illness from in-person sessions to weekly phone conversations.
Please remember: you are not alone. We are just a phone call away. NAMI’s helpline is available Monday-Friday from 10 AM – 4 PM. The helpline is available via phone at (216) 875-7776 or the online chat feature on NAMI’s website: www.namigreatercleveland.org. There you will also find information on our support groups, educational programs and multicultural services.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. NAMI Greater Cleveland is a local chapter dedicated to empowering those living with mental illness and their family members to achieve a better quality of life by providing education, support, information, and referrals.