An Inside Look at NAMI on Campus

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West Chester University’s NAMI on Campus program extends the core mission of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to help people affected by mental illness lead better lives. We are a student-run organization that addresses mental health issues in a variety of ways including: raising community awareness, educating peers through presentations and discussions, and providing a strong support system for other students. Having this strong support system on campus is a huge benefit for students. Our group becomes a safe space where members no longer feel alone and through trust feel comfortable enough to express their feelings, to ask for help and resources. As a group we do many self care activities that include things like guided meditation, therapy dogs, painting and more! This organization is a great place to feel supported, have a great time with others, and fight to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

dr Bratina, a NAMI on Campus counselor and my forensic mental health professor, taught us that the biggest challenge in getting people the help they need is the stigma attached to mental health. Mental illness should be taken seriously and often people forget that people with mental illness are human. We’re college students and now is the time to prioritize ourselves and our mental health, especially when we’re expected to juggle so many things to be successful. As a community, we need to look out for each other and become more open to what others are going through. This is why NAMI on Campus is so important. It offers college students a place to express themselves and learn about topics we don’t know or to learn about resources to help with whatever we’re going through.

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NAMI on Campus is a community of welcoming and amazing people who genuinely care about you and your wellbeing. Personally, I’ve never felt so welcome in a club, mainly because of the positive energy everyone exudes. When I first went to a meeting I really felt like it was a safe place to talk about how I was feeling and I loved the fact that it promotes improvement in your mental health and the members offers real opportunities to help. Being empathetic myself, I wanted to help others gain compassion and care more about those around them. My dream was to be part of a community that supports the same things I’m passionate about. I found that in NAMI and eventually rose to become a secretary. The role was a step out of my comfort zone for me. I don’t normally step into roles like this because of my fear, but I decided to challenge the fear and anxiety I suffer from on a daily basis and apply for the role. I ended up with the secretary role and felt it was a step in the right direction. I firmly believe that if we try to limit ourselves, we miss great opportunities.

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One of our first events together will be on Sunday, September 25th at 1pm for NAMIWalks Philly at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia. Please don’t hesitate to email [email protected] for more information on how to join us! Our first meeting is coming up too! It’s September 20th in Brandywine Room 011 at 7pm. This club doesn’t have a huge time commitment, so don’t worry if you only have a deadline to catch up. We will continue to welcome you with open arms and appreciate everyone who joins us. The NAMI on Campus board members are truly amazing people. We have Kylie Hoffman as our President, Lauren Pearson as our Social Media Chair, Anna Carroll as Treasurer and myself, Jadyn Branch, as Secretary. We can’t wait to meet you all and see you join us in raising awareness of mental illness and improving our mental health together! See you soon!

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Jadyn Branch is a fourth-year psychology major with a minor in criminal justice. [email protected]

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