Grand opening Thursday for new NAMI offices


The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Delaware and Morrow Counties will celebrate a grand opening from 8 to 9 a.m. Thursday, May 5, at its new offices on 560 Sunbury Road, Suites 11 and 12.

The opening is part of the Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Business Before Hours,” a regular networking/informational opportunity held at different sites.

“May is Mental Health Month,” said Karen Hart, president of NAMI of Delaware and Morrow Counties. “We educate, advocate and provide support for individuals and families living with a serious mental health condition. One big part of what NAMI does is erase the stigma associated with mental illness. You can come out and say you have cancer or heart disease, but it’s really hard for people who have a serious mental illness to come out and say, ‘By the way, I have schizophrenia.’”

“Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder,” says the NAMI website. “Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable.”

“It’s a brain disease, wiring and chemical stuff,” Hart said. “It’s not something you just snap out of. We consider our people in recovery. It’s a tough journey, but they’re not alone in this fight.”

NAMI is the nation’s largest nonprofit grassroots mental health organization with chapters in all 50 states, Hart said. A Delaware resident, Hart joined the local affiliate because she is helping a family member with a mental health condition. The affiliate has 10 to 12 volunteer members, all of whom have support experience.

The affiliate gets funding from the Delaware Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board; Delaware County Foundation; and the Delaware County Healthcare Foundation. Before moving to the Sunbury Road location, NAMI shared space with Safe Harbor Peer Support Services.

“Everything that we do is free,” Hart said, including 12-week courses in the spring and fall with information on symptoms, treatments, and coping skills; public presentations; and support groups for individuals and families.

“We joined the Chamber of Commerce because we would like employers to know these resources are available because, when an employee is struggling with depression, it impacts productivity.”

On June 25, NAMI Delaware and Morrow will collaborate with NAMI Franklin County for the third year in a row at NAMIWalks in Wolfe Park, Columbus. The event is one of 85 across the country where people walk together to raise money for NAMI programs and services; and to display support for people affected by mental illness.

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By Gary Budzak

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Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

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