Misconceptions about mental health paired with predatory insurance companies and a shortage of mental health workers have underserved Americans suffering from mental illness. One-in-five Americans have a mental health condition, and 56% of American adults with mental illness do not receive treatment.
American youth are affected as well – rates of severe depression in young people are rising, from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. And young people have an even harder time accessing treatment with 76% receiving insufficient treatment or none at all.
Volunteering for a mental health advocacy organization in NYC can:
- Help change the public perception of mental health
- Empower those suffering from mental illness to seek treatment
- Reduce the number of lives lost to suicide.
Get involved with these 5 organizations to improve mental health within The Five Boroughs.
5 Mental Health Advocacy Organizations in NYC
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
The National Alliance on Mental Illness in New York City (NAMI-NYC) advocates, educates and provides support for residents suffering from mental illness and their loved ones.
NAMI-NYC volunteers lead mental health classes and training that help New Yorkers living with mental illness. Volunteers with NAMI-NYC can assist in many areas, from administration to marketing, to counseling and facilitation. Volunteers are provided with training and are required to make a one-year commitment to NAMI.
Positive Exposure celebrates diversity and helps change the perception of individuals with differences through the visual arts and the power of storytelling.
Partnering with non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, and a variety of institutions, Positive Exposure facilitates programming that promotes a compassionate, inclusive society. Recently, they launched a European headquarters in Ghent, Belgium; and in October of this year, they will launch a dedicated museum and exhibition space in East Harlem.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for Americans, and the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34. Suicide claims 47,000 American lives per year, more than twice the number of lives lost through homicide.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention helps save lives and provides support for those who have been affected by suicide. They fund research, provide suicide prevention education, and support public policies for mental health and suicide prevention.
To support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, volunteers can become a field advocate, attend an educational workshop, join a fundraiser, or work with a local chapter of the organization.
According to estimates from the CDC, autism affects 1-in-59 children in the United States. Autism Speaks provides support for individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorder.
Autism Speaks supports research, political advocacy, and educational initiatives to promote understanding and acceptance of autism and related conditions. Their public policy initiatives include diverse subjects, from science and research to healthcare, housing, and access to education and employment.
Volunteers with Autism Speaks can become Advocacy Ambassadors, providing grassroots support to policy initiatives that affect people with autism and their families.
Healtheo360 educates and supports people living with chronic conditions. Through their online platform, Healtheo360 has created a network of people living with chronic conditions, empowering them to share their stories, and support one another from diagnosis through management.
Members can post their own experiences by blog or video, and connect with their peers on the network, helping to relieve the isolating effects of chronic physical or mental conditions.
Volunteering with local mental health advocacy organizations helps New Yorkers living with mental illnesses receive treatment and leads to a more inclusive community. Explore additional volunteer opportunities in NYC and find ways to make a positive change in your city.
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