YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Mahoning Valley chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness plans to accelerate outreach and education programs this year, as it works with the community to raise awareness and remove social stigmas related to those affected by mental illness.
“One of our most significant developments fueling growth has been our increased marketing and social media presence,” says Hope Renee Haney, executive director. These media efforts have helped NAMI Mahoning Valley extend its reach into the community regarding its free support groups, education classes, awareness events, fundraisers and other services, she says.
“For NAMI Mahoning Valley, the past two years have been challenging as they have for all of us in this age of COVID,” Haney says. This resulted in an abrupt pivot to providing support groups online.
Still, the organization was able to expand from two staff members in 2017 to five by 2022. Much of this growth occurred between 2020 and 2021, she says.
“Our goal of educating and raising awareness regarding mental illness while providing support for those experiencing it is often hampered by a very public, very negative stigma surrounding mental illness and the people dealing with it,” Haney says. “Through perseverance teamwork and dedication, we are changing that.”