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Executive Director’s Report: The Impact of COVID-19

Hello NAMI SWI Friends and Family …
Kris Gamm-Smith - NAMI SWI Executive Director
As I write this article, my hope is that you are safe and staying well during this pandemic. Please know that you are on our hearts and minds, especially during this time of uncertainty. We at NAMI SWI are concerned for your mental health and ensuring that you are receiving the support that you need for continued recovery.

Where do we begin in discussing the impact that COVID-19 is having on individuals and families living with serious mental health issues. We know that unemployment, businesses shutting down, and separation from friends and family due to COVID-19 have placed an uncomfortable, emotional strain on people. Some describe their experience of having to cope with unmanageable stress, anxiety, isolation, depression and thoughts of being powerless.

Prior to the onset of the Coronavirus, we were already seeing an alarming increase in the number of suicides occurring among people of all ages. I wrote about this issue in our last newsletter.

Former Congressman Patrick J Kennedy reported that “calls at suicide hotlines have increased by 800 percent as resources shift to COVID-19 relief; raising the question – Will the silent killer of mental illness be our country’s next major crisis?

In the past two weeks alone, NAMI SWI has received numerous calls on our helpline from people seeking resources for either themselves, a friend or a family member who is experiencing a mental health crisis. We must band together and confront this issue head-on.

We need to openly discuss suicide on both a personal and professional level. We must collaborate as providers of services, along with educators, concerned families and friends, and others representing key roles in maximizing access to existing resources. We need to simultaneously advocate for more funds to address the needs of this growing population.

NAMI SWI is ready to assist in making this process of bringing people to the table a reality; people who want to act by facing this dilemma and share in the responsibility of helping to save lives.

Please read the information regarding our current list of Virtual Support Groups, resources such as: Local Crisis Hotlines available 24/7 within the 6 counties served by NAMI SWI, and other specialized support groups and Crisis programs.

We need all of you to support this cause in some way or another e.g., donating your time to volunteer and/or sharing your financial resources, both of which will make it possible for us to outreach to this vulnerable group. I thank you for listening …

Respectfully Submitted,
Kristine Gamm-Smith, M. A.
Executive Director, NAMI SWI

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