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A Florida mental health organization's campaign 'You Are Not Alone' offers free resources to help

Posted at 2:52 PM, May 13, 2021

This pandemic has triggered anxiety, depression, and elevated stress for so many, even if you've never experienced it.

So now, a local mental health organization is trying to reach out to those struggling and offer free resources to help.

"Anxiety is up, depression is up and people that live with mental health conditions already, those things really can be and have been exacerbated because of this last year," explained Colleen Thayer, the executive director of NAMI, the National Association of Mental Illness in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

Thayer says this pandemic has caused many to suffer from anxiety, stress, and even depression. So, NAMI is launching a new campaign called "You Are Not Alone."

"We try to encourage people to really reach out," Thayer said.

Thayer says it's so important to take care of your mental well-being during this challenging time.

"Sometimes self-care is just so critical. And sometimes that means, you know, you take an extra 10 minutes to walk around your neighborhood or make a phone call to a friend or write. Or, you know, whatever people can do for their own self-care. We really try to encourage that," she added.

NAMI in Sarasota and Manatee counties offers many free resources, as well.

"We have support groups, and they're peer-led. So there are peer support groups for people that live with mental health conditions. And then, there are family support groups. And we also do a wide variety of education classes geared towards family members, peers, family members of younger people," Thayer said.

If you think you should tough it out and handle the extra stress, Thayer says it's important to talk about mental issues like you would any other physical issue.

"It is like any other kind of chronic health condition. It's manageable, and people can live very, very fulfilling and happy lives," she explained.

Along with in-person support groups, NAMI also offers free virtual support groups.

For more information on that and other free resources, click here. Or you can call NAMI's office directly at (941) 444-3428.

But if you need help right away, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-talk or 1-(800) Suicide. They both have someone standing by 24/7.

Wendy Ryan at WFTS first reported this story.