NAMI Event Discusses The Battle with Mental Illness

NAMI Event Discusses The Battle with Mental Illness

“I am a sweet and loving woman but when I am not on my medicines you don’t want to know me,” said Jill Axelrod.

She was one of the guest speakers who educated students on the ongoing battle against mental illness. 

The diagnosis of mental illness is becoming so common that in the United States, one of five adults will experience a type of mental illness in any given year, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Mental Illnesses are health conditions that change someone’s thinking, emotions or/and behaviors. It is associated with distress, problems operating in social settings, personal habits, work or family activities, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

There are various forms of mental illness. There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, depression, dementia, and schizophrenia, according to National Alliance on Mental Illness.

There are about 1 in 25, 9.8 million adults  in the United States who suffer a serious mental illness in a year.  One in five children between the ages of thirteen and eighteen who experience a severe mental disorder at some point of their life. The mental illness usually interferes with their daily life or the activities that they are interested in doing, according to NAMI.

The NAMI New York City Metro is the largest affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness organization that provides services to help with support, education, and advocacy for individuals living through mental illness and their families.  They work in the  various communities to help people who need help and wants to be trained. Their guiding principle is “families helping families.” They offer free classes throughout the year with courses like family-to-family, homefront, peer-to-peer, and NAMI basics courses. Also, they offer more than 20 support groups to help individuals living with mental illness and their family members. They have trained volunteers to help them.

Mercy College and the National Alliance on Mental Illness New York City Metro hosted an annual event on Nov. 16, 2017 to give people in the Physician Assistant program at the school a preview of what they will be experiencing when they are out in their fields.  They brought in two individuals in the NAMI program, Lady Charmaine Day and Jill Axelrod, who suffer with mental illness to talk about their past and present. The presentation was split up among five segments: Introduction and Dark days, acceptance, treatment, coping skills,and  successes, hopes, dreams.

The event has been run only a few times but is already considered vital.  “It helps students in the PA program to get the patient’s perspective before going out in the field,” said Molly Mccabe, Director for Accessibility of Mercy College

They played videos of people talking about their disorders and telling stories about what it feels  like to have disorders like bipolar and schizophrenia.The guest speakers opened up to the audience to share their life and everything they have been through. They also talked about how they coped and how the people in their life played a big role in helping them.

There are so many reasons that can cause someone to suffer mental illness.The exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known; however, through research it seems that most of the mental illnesses are caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors, according to the CDC.

Mental illness is not something that stops in one day. It requires ongoing treatment. Some treatments that can help individuals are medication, psychotherapy, group therapy, and other specific therapy.

Although medication helps people suffering with mental illnesses, it sometimes causes side effects. Everyone is different. What may work for one person may not work for next one. Some side effects can be vomiting, headache confusion, drowsiness, difficulty remembering, frequent urination, muscle pain, hallucinations, and many more, according to National Institute on Mental Health.

If anyone is experiencing any changes or side effects, that person should immediately contact a doctor.

As reiterated earlier, when Axelrod is not on her proper treatment. Her mood changes and she becomes different, event to those she loves.

Sometimes, the people close to individuals will notice the signs first. There are obvious signs when  someone is going through something but not all of the time.

“It wasn’t easy coming out to my acceptance. I couldn’t accept something was eating away at my brain,” said Day.

“I have a wonderful support system. Mom, dad, grandmother, and friends. That’s how I started to feel acceptance,” said Axelrod

If people receive the proper care or treatment they need, they can recover or learn to cope with mental illness, according to Mental Health America.

The NAMI New York City Metro has a national campaign called #IWILLLISTEN. This campaign is meant to help to bring awareness and encouraging individuals to listen to people who are experiencing mental illness. The idea is for them to know that people are listening and are there to support them with no judgment. Listening really helps more than some know.

“I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It affected my life. I feel is important for me to share my story one way,” said Mercy college student and speaker at the event, Toni Edwards, Social Work major.

“I am not ashamed of it. I am not saying it’s a wonderful thing. I am saying it’s okay to be who I am,” said Axelrod.

For more information about general information about programs and services, contact NAMI New York Metro at (212) 684-3264 or visit their websites and

“If I can help people along the way, that makes me happy. Sharing my story is therapeutic,” said Lady Charmaine Day.

If you are going through mental illness, don’t be afraid to speak up. You’re not alone. There are many individuals willing to help and listen #IWILLLISTEN.