JOPLIN, Mo. – NAMI-Joplin, of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is a grassroots, non-profit organization dedicated to providing support for individuals impacted by mental health issues.

Not only does NAMI provide help for those directly affected, it provides education and training for anyone who may come in contact with individuals who suffer from mental illness, like parents, caregivers, family and law enforcement.

“Education is our biggest thing,” said Diana Harper, Vice President of the Board of Directors and Education Chairman.

NAMI exists to help people with mental illness and help others understand it. It wants people to look at situations and people differently, while acting with a little more kindness and understanding.

“We want to get awareness out there about different types of mental illness. We have a lot of different programs,” said Kayla Pekarek, on the Board of Directors.

The organization is multi-faceted. It offers free, peer-led support groups, educational programs and training, and more.

“Everything is free. That’s where we need the help with donations,” said Harper. “This year has been especially hard on us… It’s been a big struggle this year.”

For Pekarek, NAMI helped her understand more about her own mental health. Now she wants to share what she’s learned and help others get the same education.

“As an individual with mental illness, I need to understand it. So I was very glad to find NAMI,” said Pekarek. “If you can understand something better and you can interact with people better, then why not?”

NAMI aims to destigmatize mental illness, welcome those who are struggling and put them on a road to recovery, and be a resource for anyone who wants to educate themselves.

“It goes back to education, it goes back to understanding, and it goes back to acceptance. The acceptance that it is here – it can be treated, but it needs to be accepted. And people who live with it shouldn’t be shunned, bullied or made fun of,” said Pekarek.

If you are an individual who might have mental health issues and wants to seek help, you should contact NAMI, join a peer-led group, reach out to a friend or family member and find a doctor to provide further treatment.

“I think the hardest thing to do is to acknowledge that maybe you need help and then to reach out,” said Pekarek.

If you care about someone with mental health issues, NAMI is there for you as well. You can reach out to NAMI for education and advice on how to support your loved one.

“It [NAMI] is there, it wants to help,” said Pekarek.

To learn more about the support groups and classes offered, like a Creative Wellness Art Group and an evidence-based Family to Family Education Class, visit NAMI-Joplin’s website. Some groups and programs are in person while others are virtual.

NAMI-Joplin is located at 1601 S. Wall Ave. in Joplin. It is open Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (by phone), Monday 4 – 6 p.m., and Tuesday 6 – 8 p.m.  

NAMI also offers a peer support warm line, available Monday – Friday 9:30 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Call the warm line at 1-877-535-4357.

For immediate help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

To donate, visit NAMI-Joplin’s PayPal.