Wednesday, November 30, 2016

NAMI Helpline

November Community Service Hours - 8 hours

Cumulative Fall 2016 Community Service Hours - 22 hours

***UPDATED as of 12/14/16***
December Community Service Hours - 9 hours

Cumulative Fall 2016 Community Service Hours - 31 hours

Strangely, it felt great to return to New Orleans after Thanksgiving break. Not strange because I expected to be unexcited or sad to return. It was strange because I have only lived in New Orleans for a few months. I enjoyed being home in North Carolina, seeing family, and hanging out with old friends. But, by the end of the week away, I was ready to head back to the Crescent City. Over the last few months, beyond just getting into a routine, I have truly built great relationships within the Pharmacology program and in my community involvement. My work with NAMI New Orleans this fall has been a huge part of that. 

Early in November, I met with the Helpline Coordinator and other volunteers interested in assisting NAMI with their Helpline. During this orientation, we learned about the purpose of the Helpline, that being to assist callers in reaching appropriate resources such contacts for finding housing, establishing a provider or counselor, or joining a support group. We received a guidebook that covers the majority of the information we will likely need to assist callers. I was unaware of all the ways in which NAMI helps individuals living with mental illness in the New Orleans community. 

Just before Thanksgiving break, I was able to volunteer individually my first day. I am still learning the basics of the help line, the hardest of which may be just answering the telephone and transferring calls; however, I am really excited about the potential of this volunteer experience to help an incredibly underserved group within the New Orleans community. During my first day, I learned that NAMI resources are generally for individuals living with mental illness; however, the Helpline often receives calls from family members or friends of individuals living with dementia and developmental disorders. Despite NAMI resources being directed towards individuals living with mental illness, Helpline volunteers can assist these callers with reaching the appropriate supportive organizations or identifying overlapping resources that may be helpful, such as contacts for housing, obtaining health insurance, or establishing a provider. In addition to that, I worked on cleaning the formatting of the housing resources document that the Helpline volunteers send via email to any callers seeking to establish affordable housing with available support for those living with mental illness. I look forward to sharing my ongoing experiences with NAMI and New Orleans in general.