My name is Kevin Fischer, and I am a survivor of a mental health illness. I am a survivor of my beloved son’s mental illness and suicide; and I am a survivor of my own attempt at suicide. But I have never been alone and – if you are currently struggling with mental illness – you are not alone.
Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness and overcome it. Every May, the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Michigan Chapter joins the national movement to raise awareness about mental health. Each year – in fact, each day – NAMI fights stigma, provides support, educates the public and advocates for policies that supports people with mental illness, their families and caregivers. Stigma continues to be the leading barrier to the early diagnosis and treatment that leads to better outcomes.
Now more than ever, we all need to find ways to stay connected with our community and loved ones. No one should feel alone or without the information and support that they need.
For 2021’s Mental Health Awareness Month NAMI will continue to amplify the message of “You Are Not Alone.” We will use this time to focus on the healing value of connecting in safe ways, prioritizing mental health and acknowledging that it’s okay to not be okay because together we can realize our shared vision of a nation where anyone affected by mental illness can get the appropriate support and quality of care to live healthy, fulfilling lives — a nation where no one feels alone in their struggle.
One of the most frustrating aspects of having a mental illness as chronic and severe as mine was, is explaining to people that I don’t “choose” to be unhappy. I’ve found it helpful to explain depression and anxiety as a tunnel. For most people, sadness and worry feels like being in a dark tunnel, but – believe me – there is a light at the end of that tunnel.
Depression, anxiety and fear is the absence of the light. It is the hopelessness of being lost in the dark with no way out. Every episode of my depression has been similar in that regard. The light goes out, and I lose my way. But I learned that there is help.
My suicide attempt scared me and my loved ones, but it propelled me into action. Action to find help for myself and for others living with mental illness. I fiercely fought the stigma of doing nothing. I got help and I soon became the Executive Director of NAMI, Michigan.
NAMI Michigan Chapter Opinion Piece/ 2
I am proud of the work we do throughout Michigan on behalf of those living with mental illness. Even amid the Pandemic, we continue work closely with our grassroots community affiliates throughout Michigan to provide the necessary education and the support necessary to provide hope, even virtually.
The light will return. It always does. Being in the darkness is difficult and painful and lonely. I know the light might fade again in the future, but that’s fine. So long as I can hold on to the lifeline of someone else’s light, while providing light to others, I know I will be okay. So will you.
If you need help or if a loved one needs help, please reach out to NAMI, Michigan for information and resources. Here’s how to do so:
- In a crisis? Text “NAMI” TO 741741
- NAMI Helpline – 800-950-NAMI
- NAMI Detroit Website: namidetroit.org
- NAMI Website for NAMI Metro: org (serving Wayne, Oakland & Macomb Counties)
- NAMI Website: namimi.org
NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Kevin Fischer is NAMIM Michigan Chapter Executive Director. He is also the founder and Director of The Dominique Fischer Memorial Foundation. Kevin serves on the Board of Directors of several behavioral health organizations throughout Michigan, including Governor Whitmer’s Suicide Prevention Commission, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) Mental Health Diversion Council and Behavioral Health Advisory Council (BHAC), Disability Rights Michigan’s (DRM) Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Advisory Board, and is a member of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) International Board of Directors.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Bsharah Public Relations