YORK COUNTY, Pa. — A local group that helps support and educate people about mental illness has thousands more dollars to work with.
This week, FOX43's Vice President and General Manager Chris Topf presented a check for $5,000 to the executive director of NAMI of York and Adams Counties.
The local chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Health was established in 1984 to provide support and education to individuals and families affected by mental health.
One of those outreach programs is called Family-to-Family. It helps people throughout the region gain a better understanding of mental health and mental illness.
One person who knows the difficulty of mental illness all too well is Tony Bachman.
"I have a loved one who's been diagnosed as bipolar. When we went through a crisis, I couldn't help," Bachman, a NAMI volunteer instructor, told FOX43.
That is, until his sister went online and found NAMI of York and Adams Counties, where he enrolled in the Family-to-Family program.
"It was really a lifesaver for me," said Bachman.
The National Alliance on Mental Health is the largest grassroots organization associated with mental health. The group provides education, advocacy and support for those living with a mental health condition and their families.
"So many people do not understand what mental health is. [They don't know] where to go, how to find resources, so this is what we do. We educate," said Desiree Irvin, the executive director of NAMI.
Education through the Family-to-Family program brings people together for an 8-week-long course.
NAMI is also moving into local school districts with the PAUSE program, which aims to address the mental health needs of middle and high school students.
"The kids are able to talk about their mental health, ask questions and we can be there as peers who live with mental health conditions. [We] are able to guide them and help them through their journey," said Irvin.
On Tuesday, Jan. 24, a group of peers gathered at a York church, learning from Bachman, the volunteer teacher for the night, who hopes participants will learn what he did some time ago.
"[I hope] that they realize their loved one is fighting an illness," said Bachman. "Rather than being critical of the person, you realize it's the illness that's causing that depression."
The $5,000 donation NAMI received comes from the TEGNA Foundation, the parent company of FOX43, which supports non-profit organizations that serve our communities.
Irvin told FOX43 that mental health help has never been in more demand, making their work even more important. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, one in five people needed mental health help. According to Irvin, now it's one in four.