Mental health is a challenge that impacts people of all ages, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds. It is estimated that 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience a mental illness. Despite the prevalence of mental health challenges, there is a stigma surrounding the topic, which can make it difficult for individuals to seek the help they deserve.
That's where NAMI Contra Costa County comes in.
"You are not alone." - NAMI Slogan
NAMI, which stands for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is a non-profit organization that provides education, support, and advocacy for individuals and families affected by mental illness. The Contra Costa County chapter of NAMI is a shining example of the organization's mission in action.
The story of NAMI Contra Costa started in 1989 when two moms from the nearby city of Walnut Creek were seeking a support system for their children. Their goal was to create a stronger voice in the community, not only for their children, but to individuals who seek support and empowerment over their mental illness.
For over 30 years now, NAMI Contra Costa offers a wide range of programs and services, including support groups, education and training programs, advocacy initiatives, and community outreach efforts here in Concord, California.
NAMI Contra Costa is one of 600 affiliates across the nation.
Some programs that NAMI Contra Costa County offers:
Family-to-Family An 8-week course for family members of individuals with mental illness that provides education on the biology of mental illness, coping strategies, communication skills, and more.
Peer-to-Peer A 10-week course for individuals with mental illness that provides education on recovery, self-care, coping skills, and more.
In Our Own Voice A presentation given by individuals with mental illness that shares their personal stories of recovery and hope.
Support groups A variety of support groups for individuals with mental illness and their families, including groups for parents, spouses, siblings, and more.
These programs and services are made possible by the dedicated volunteers and staff members at NAMI Contra Costa County. These individuals are passionate about mental health and are committed to making a difference in their community. Their hard work and dedication has helped countless individuals and families find the support and resources they need to navigate the challenges of mental illness.
One of the most inspiring things about NAMI Contra Costa County is the way that the organization empowers individuals and their loved ones, to become advocates for themselves. By providing education and resources, NAMI Contra Costa County helps individuals and families understand their rights and learn how to navigate the mental health system. These services can be life-changing for individuals who may have felt lost or alone in their struggles.
Visit Concord conducted an interview with Gigi Crowder, the Executive Director of NAMI Contra Costa County. Crowder was born in the Bay Area and now spends the bulk of her time in Concord where the NAMI Contra Costa offices are located.
While conversations about mental health can be deeply emotional and thought-provoking, it can bring to light the challenges, struggles, and triumphs of individuals and families impacted by mental illness. With such dedication and passion, Gigi is a true champion for mental health advocacy and support. Her commitment to serving this community is truly inspiring.
Under Gigi's leadership, NAMI Contra Costa County has grown and expanded its programs and services, reaching more individuals and families in need. Her perseverance to education and outreach has helped raise awareness about mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
"It's important to recognize that mental illness is not a choice, nor is it a reflection of someone's character or worth. It's a medical condition, just like any other illness, and those who are affected by it deserve compassion, empathy, and support."
- Ashley Ciullo, Peer Support Specialist and Media Manager of NAMI Contra Costa
Gigi is a skilled and compassionate leader, who has built strong partnerships with other mental health organizations and community groups. Her collaborative approach has helped create a network of support for individuals and families affected by mental illness throughout Contra Costa County.
Gigi's leadership has had a profound impact on the mental health community in Contra Costa County and beyond. Her tireless efforts to improve access to care, promote mental health wellness, and advocate for the needs of those affected by mental illness make her an invaluable asset to NAMI Contra Costa County and the broader mental health community.
"Despite the challenges they face, those who struggle with mental illness continue to inspire me with their resilience, creativity, and perseverance. They are warriors, fighting a battle that many of us cannot begin to comprehend. And yet, they continue to show up, to fight, and to live each day to the best of their ability.", said Gigi.
Overall, the conversations from the interview have been a powerful tool for advocacy and education, bringing attention to an issue that affects millions of people and highlighting the important work being done by organizations like NAMI Contra Costa County.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, know that you are not alone. There is help and support available, and it's okay to reach out for help. Mental illness is a journey, and there may be ups and downs along the way, but there is always hope for recovery and healing.
Subscribe to NAMI Contra Costa's Newsletter below: