New Roaring Fork Valley mental health alliance plans brainstorming session |

New Roaring Fork Valley mental health alliance plans brainstorming session

Community members interested in mental health resources in the Roaring Fork Valley are welcome to attend a brainstorming session in Carbondale on Thursday hosted by a new player in the area’s mental health arena, the National Alliance on Mental Illness – Roaring Fork Valley.

The local affiliate, which is in the process of filing for nonprofit status, officially formed on Sept. 19, said its president, Anika Neal.

“We’re committed to building a community of hope for all those affected by mental illness,” she said of the group.

NAMI has been around on the national level since 1979, according to its website, which states that its mission is to offer support, education, awareness, advocacy and research related to mental illness.

The Roaring Fork Valley affiliate has an eight-member board from all walks of life with diverse ages, Neal said. The impetus for forming the group started with her personal experience a couple of years ago while she was coping with a child affected by mental illness.

“I felt hopeless, and I felt desperate,” she said, noting that mental illness caregivers often have nowhere to turn to help them cope. “And I realized there was nothing in our community like that.”

“I think we can be a voice in this valley for families” affected by mental illness, she said later. “We’re offering something different; we’re offering peer support.”

Neal said NAMI affiliates are funded through membership dues, some of which remain at the local level to address specific needs. All services are provided by volunteers and are offered free of charge, she said.

She stressed that the group does not intend to offer services already available here but instead hopes to augment them.

“What can all of us together as a community accomplish?” she said. “We just want to be part of positive solutions, positive movement.”

All those interested in helping or exploring ways to enhance mental health services in the valley — from mental health professionals to law enforcement to plain citizens — are invited to the NAMI gathering at Carbondale Town Hall on Thursday afternoon.

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