Mental health – Early detection and family support are key

Mental health is a crucial component of wellbeing for us all. Good mental health is a state of balance in our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Unfortunately, mental health issues are deeply stigmatized, which is often a barrier to people getting help when they need it.  Mental health can affect anyone, regardless of age, economic status, or race. In reality, we all know someone who suffers from some form of mental health issue such as depression, anxiety or countless others. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), about 1 in 4 youth in the US has a mental health condition, potentially hundreds of students in any given high school, have or will experience a mental health issue.

For decades, United Way of Miami-Dade has been committed to improving mental health, funding programs such as out-patient psychological counseling, infant mental health, family counseling, case management, crisis unit services, and the 211 information and referral line.

Our newest partnership

Recently our United Way joined forces with the Miami chapter of National Alliance for Mental Illness, NAMI Miami-Dade, to activate non-clinical players as part of mental health solutions. We specifically invested in the expansion of local efforts to train and support parents, families, and peers of people struggling with mental health issues.

Family members and peers can be an effective part of mental health solutions. They are uniquely dedicated and often play the role of life-long caregivers or guides for people struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

NAMI’s family support groups and Family to Family 30-hour courses are vital to helping family members understand and manage through a mental health episode of a loved one.  The support groups are facilitated by trained family members who have experienced a loved one’s mental illness. These courses offer:

  • A safe and supportive place where families learn how to navigate the mental health system.
  • Understanding of the biology and treatment options for mental illness.
  • A place to express concerns, sadness, questions and fears.
  • Tools to better empathize and understand what their loved one is going through.
  • Advice on how to manage their own stress.
  • A place to develop a network of friends that understand both the stress and uncertainty of caring for a loved one who is ill.
  • Hope that recovery is likely and that patience is needed to get there.

For the individual whose life has been altered due to onset of symptoms of mental illness, NAMI Connections support groups and the Peer to Peer 25-hour courses, are facilitated by individuals who are in recovery from mental illness. These courses offer:

  • A network of peers who are managing their illnesses.
  • Engagement with others in these programs relieving the solitude that occurs when the illness disrupts a person’s educational or work plans.
  • Tools for self-management.
  • Hope that recovery and return to normal life is possible.

”Mental illness strikes young people in their prime. With appropriate medical treatment, social support and early intervention, individuals can recover and reclaim their lives. Key to this is a knowledgeable family and a network of peers to relate to. United Way’s partnership with NAMI Miami-Dade has amplified the impact of our organization as we build capacity to support the estimated 9% of our Miami population living with serious mental illness and their families”.

-Susan Racher
Vice President-NAMI Miami-Dade, Director and Chair of Strategic Planning, South Florida Behavioral Health Network and former Co-Chair, External Advisory Board, University of Miami Miller School Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences



2018-04-26T14:54:55-04:00 March 5th, 2018|