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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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NAMI Brazos Valley offers support, education for mental illness

NAMI+Feature
Photo by Courtesy
NAMI Feature

Finding resources for people who live with mental illness can often present a challenge for friends, family and the person who deals with the illness.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, is a grassroots organization that provides education and assistance for people with mental illnesses and their families. The organization started in 1979 to open conversations about mental health. In 1996 the Brazos Valley non-profit branch opened to serve seven counties.
Jody Schulz, executive director of NAMI Brazos Valley, said NAMI Brazos Valley has group support meetings every Tuesday night from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. for individuals who live with mental illness as well as for the family, friends, guardians or spouses of these individuals.
According to the NAMI website, one in five American adults experience a mental illness but approximately 60 percent did not receive mental health services in the previous year. Schulz said Texas is 49th by national statistics for having the lowest expenditure for mental health resources.
Due to the lack of a regimen schedule and stress that usually accompanies college, students can be at risk of either developing new or worsening existing mental illnesses, according to Schulz.
“The college years are the most prime time that mental illnesses evolve,” Schulz said. “Once they go off to college there’s a lot more pressure for them to do social things, they probably don’t get enough sleep, there’s a lot of stress on passing their classes, the stress intensifies during the college years and they don’t have that immediate support of parents being right there. That’s where so many kids end up having to leave school because of the fact that they are not able to live, laugh and love because of the illness that has taken over their life.”
Through their philanthropy dinner, Chi Psi Beta raised approximately $5,900 for NAMI Brazos Valley. The fraternity was encouraged to get involved when industrial distribution senior and fellow member Amogh Kulkarni died by suicide in November 2017. When fellow members were coping with his loss they decided to change their philanthropy to help raise money for NAMI Brazos Valley to help erase the stigma against mental illness.
“Immediately everyone really had the same reaction,” said Rohaan Waliany, kinesiology senior and president of Chi Psi Beta. “We were all able to come together and really discuss the fact that these things are a lot more common than we give it credit for.”
Tracye Sanders, president of the board for NAMI Brazos Valley, discovered the organization when she was searching for advocate programs to help someone outside of her family. Sanders said she was shocked when found the organization because she raised her children without ever being told by any doctors about the benefits of NAMI. Sanders said she called the president at that time and went to a support group for family members.
“I told [my husband], I said, ‘For the first time ever, I felt validated,’” Sanders said. “I mean I had the love and support of a lot of my family, that I had over the years lost family members and friends that didn’t understand what I was dealing with or they became estranged, and all the sudden I was in a room with people who understood my experiences, and they were telling the same story.”
To learn more about NAMI Brazos Valley, visit https://NAMIbv.org.

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