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NAMI on Campus

One in four people between the ages of 18-24 develop a mental illness. This means nearly 25 percent of college students suffer from some sort of mental illness. Because these numbers are daunting, a community of resources and outreach is needed for students. Out of this need for mental illness support on campuses, NAMI created NAMI on Campus. The state of Iowa has 4 on campus clubs at the Carver College of Medicine, Grand View University, Iowa State University and North Iowa Area Community College.

Iowa State University’s club has over 50 people. Their members work on outreach within the campus, which includes doing presentations about mental illness on dormitory floors within residence halls. Organization President Hannah Nehring said, “We are looking to do either 1 or 2 dorm floor presentations per month.” This gives students an opportunity to learn about signs and symptoms, as well as resources they have available to them on campus.

North Iowa Area Community College has 23 members in their NAMI on Campus chapter. The organization faces a particular challenge with fostering community within a two-year institution. Kay Long, the faculty director of the group said, “As a 2-year college, we struggle with student continuity—for various reasons—some obvious, some not so obvious.” While continuity may be a challenge, the organization has been successful in planning programs in the past. Their most successful event in 2016 was when local speaker Joan Becker came to campus and presented about mental health. The response from students was overwhelmingly positive Long said.

Having a specific organization on college campuses dedicated to awareness and support of mental illness can go a long way in ending the stigma and helping young people during a very difficult stage of life. NAMI on Campus has clearly engaged many students and only has room to grow in the future. For more information on NAMI on Campus or to start your own chapter, visit: http://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/NAMI-on-Campus/NAMI-on-Campus-Clubs

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