NAMI Tackles Mental Health Awareness

Drue Watkins
Staff Writer

Two years ago, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) established an organization on Cameron University’s campus.

The club is led and maintained by students but helps all of those in need locally.

NAMI uses a national presence to advocate for those struggling with mental illness.

Its primary objective is to bring a sense of understanding and comfort to those who either struggle with mental problems or to those who are affected by someone else who does.

Current NAMI President Linda Magouirk and Student Support Services Freshman Guidance Specialist and NAMI adviser Cathleen Dutton worked with the Psychology Department to bring the organization to Cameron.

Dutton said the perks of having NAMI on campus are incalculable.

“It’s a safe place where there’s no judgment,” she said. “We, as people, are always growing and, sometimes we just get afraid about our mindsets.

“This club is here to make sure that everybody can bring something to everybody.”

As the adviser, Dutton provides support and management. She ensures that students follow NAMI’s rules during activities.

Magouirk sets up and oversees club meetings and plans upcoming events.

Members use “GroupMe,” an app that allows instant group texting, which helps the club decide how to best approach awareness on campus.

Dutton said she tries hard to spread news of the organization.

“People need to be aware that it’s okay to struggle with mental problems,” she said. “A college campus is a prime location for these sorts of issues with so much diversity, and to be able to provide support to those in need can go a long way.”

Magouirk said mental illnesses affect many college students.

“Most major mental illnesses are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 26,” she said, “which is why it’s so important that NAMI has a solid presence on a college campus like Cameron.”

Currently, the biggest goal for NAMI on campus is trying to bring awareness to students who may not know it exists.

The club distributes fliers all over campus to let people know about their monthly meetings, which take place on every fourth Tuesday.

Magouirk said NAMI’s presence at several local campus events, including the Student Organization Fair, has peaked the interest of many new students.

Since it is only the club’s second year, Dutton said that it’s extremely difficult to get any sort of attention or exposure, and that growth has been hard to come by.

“We really want to expand and make our voices heard,” she said. “It’s more important than many people realize. Mental illness strikes everywhere around the country and our communities.

“There are so many scared people out there that have barely any understanding of what it is that they’re going through. We have to be there for them and for those in the future.”

On Oct. 11, Firo Fire Kissed Pizza hosted a fundraiser to help NAMI increase their budget.

Dutton said it was an amazing opportunity to inform the community about the organization.

“We really have to thank Firo for this event,” she said. “It means the world to us and will only help bring more good things to Cameron. Aside from the event, we’re also designing t-shirts for awareness.”

NAMI’s primary goals at Cameron are to educate those who don’t understand, advocate for more exposure for mental illness and provide support groups where students can form peer meetings that facilitate care.

For more information about NAMI, call Dutton at (580) 581-2352 or email her at cdutton@cameron.edu.

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