I thank Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, Executive Director of the National Alliance for Mental Illness Juneau (NAMI Juneau) and Reverend Sue Bahleda, Pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church for their public presentation on Mental Illness, stigma, and sharing stories. NAMI is a grassroots education and Advocacy Association dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, support and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope for all of those in need. Not new to Juneau and the offshoot of NAMI Juneau with Sharon Lobaugh’s continuous leadership, we have services now with JAMI.
What is so meaningful and worthy is Rabbi Gartenberg and Sue Bahleda’s commitment to bring our attention to the Faith Community to educate and encourage us to provide support for families and friends of the mentally ill within our parishes. We are good at providing support and friendship when a person has a physical illness but not so with a mental illness. It may be that we feel a stigma if we tell of the mental illness in our famliy’s fearing lack of acceptance and discrimination. When we tell our stories it can encourage others to do so. It took me a very long time to talk about my own mental illness in my family but when doing so, support came with members prayers, inviting speakers at our services and educating themselves through the Family to Family free courses offered here in Juneau.
When we learn more about mental illness and talk with each other about our personal history within our Faith Communities it will grow to wherever we socialize and live. You can help by contacting Rabbi Gartenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the web site at www.namijuneau.org.