Mental health and young adults, free services for South Floridians

Posted at 4:14 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 16:29:22-04

Mental health has become a topic that has come to the forefront of our lives more than ever this past year. The pandemic has taken its toll on both who who had already been living with mental illnesses, as well as those who may be experiencing mental health issues for the first time.

“I’m 26 and I’ve been struggling with it for a long time. I’ve seen my mom struggle with it for a very, very long time,” said Alessandra Sierra.

Alessandra is like hundreds of thousands of South Floridians, struggling with depression. She's been battling with depression for years, but Alessandra said it got worse because of the pandemic.

“I’ve never experienced anxiety and I experienced by first few anxiety attacks,” added Alessandra.

One year into the pandemic, a study by The Standard and Vertsa Research shows younger people working from home, ages 18-40, are struggling the most with mental health issues. Mental illness jumped from 10% to 16% will millennials since the pandemic began.

“We’ve seen a number of young people who are not only reaching out for help but who have expressed thoughts of suicide,” said executive director of NAMI Broward County, Sandra Cumper.

Sandra said they’ve seen a 40% increase in young adults calling in for mental health services.

“The study has reported that COVID-19 has impacted the Millenials and Gen Z’s more than other people and we understand that this is an issue that will affect them because of the loss of their privileges,” said Sandra.

Sandra said NAMI is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all individuals affected by mental illnesses by offering free services.

“Our programs are support groups, educational programs such as our family-to-family classes to learn about mental illness and working with their family members. Additionally, we have a connection group for our piers to encourage them to understand more about their illness,” said Sandra.

Alessandra is a proud member of NAMI and has made it an effort to put a stop to the stigma of mental illness.

“I was the first person in my family to be like, hey let’s try therapy. Let’s talk about it. I’m so happy that I took that step. I’ve not only helped myself but helped my mom. She’s getting the help she’s needed for so many years. For that I’m very grateful for programs such as NAMI that gives us the means to do that,” added Alessandra.

NAMI is an organization that includes more than 30 local affiliates across the state. For more information, click here.