WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Wilmington, a local non-profit, is working to fill the need of those with mental illness.

Mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. NAMI offers education programs and advocates for those with mental illness and their families.

For the past 15 years, NAMI has held weekly peer-run support groups at NHRMC, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, those in-person meetings had to end.

Now, NAMI continues to hold weekly meetings, but through a computer. Wednesday, April 8, will be the first time NAMI has hosted a virtual support group.

Many people who live with anxiety and other mental health conditions are having a tough time while isolating at home and not being able to live their lives in their normal routine.

“You can just call in and listen to other people’s concerns,” said Debra Kindervatter with NAMI Wilmington. “It might alleviate some of your concerns knowing that someone else is going through the same situation that you. The reason why the peer support group works because that person walked in my shoes. They know what it’s like to be manic; they know what it’s like to be psychotic. And so that’s why it works. So having the peer support group meeting one a week, we still make the connection and realize we’re still walking in each other’s shoes.”

Kindervatter says it’s important to have and stick to a routine during this time.

“Do your therapy even though you may not like the teletherapy initially,” said Kindervatter. “It really wasn’t bad. I did it. Hopefully, we’ll get through this together. That’s what we’re doing. We’re just joining our hands or telephone calls together, listening to each other, trying to connect, and alleviating some of our fear and concern we have about our loved ones and the rest of the world and what’s going on.”

You don’t have to be a NAMI member to call in and they’re free. If you interested in joining the meeting, call the number and use the access code below. They are every Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. until 5 p.m.

CALL IN NUMBER: (978)990-5000 | ACCESS CODE: 894438

NAMI also provides a monthly Family Support Group and are making plans to go virtual with that on Monday. You can find more information on that and about NAMI Wilmington, by visiting their website.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration has a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. That number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).