BROOKSVILLE — One in four adults suffers from a mental illness. One in four. That statistic from the National Alliance on Mental Illness is the reason the organization exists. The stigma on mental illness, despite efforts to break it down, still plagues a high percentage of the population. And families need help.

To help fund services, NAMI Hernando organizes two main events, Celebrity Lip Sync in the fall and Kentucky Derby Day in the Spring.

The Kentucky Derby Day was May 4 at Strong Tower Vineyard & Winery. Participants enjoyed an evening of hors d’oeuvres, wine tasting and contests for Ladies’ Fancy Hat and Best Men’s Derby Attire whole supporting an important local resource.

NAMI Hernando has been building on its local support, offering a strong menu of services for mental illnesses. Family support, peer to peer networking, and workshops and training sessions for professionals who are in direct contact with those who suffer are all part of what NAMI Hernando offers. All are free to participants.

Breaking the stigma is important, said NAMI Hernando Executive Director, Tina Kinney. Mental illnesses are still difficult to talk about. But those effected need to know they are not alone. Finding support is the first step toward healing.

NAMI is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families navigating the unsteady terrain of mental health issues. Local organizations, like NAMI Hernando, are a compilation of families, mental health professionals and persons diagnosed with a mental illness. More than 1,000 communities across the country focus on three cornerstones of activity offering hope, reform and health. They include support, education and advocacy.

Support is delivered in a variety of ways, including specific programs, like the new peer to peer support NAMI Hernando will officially launch on July 1.

“It’s basically an enhancement on what we’re already doing,” said Kinney. But now the peer support groups have extended meetings to seven days a week. Four occur at the Beautiful Mind Center, 10554 Spring Hill Drive. And now through a partnership with the Vineyard Church in Brooksville, 375 S. Broad St., three more support meetings have been added to the calendar each week.

“In addition to that expansion, we are also able to do individual peer support with trained and certified addiction specialists,” added Kinney. These specialists will be working with individuals suffering mental health and substance abuse disorders after they have been released from a hospital or an incarceration.

“We are being the navigators for them,” explained Kinney. Many times, after release, they don’t know where to turn for help. NAMI’s peer support program will help them set up a Recovery Action Plan and deal with any obstacles that might prevent them from getting well.

“That peer is there to help them navigate the journey.”

For those dealing with mental illness, NAMI is a lifeline. The organization provides workshops, counseling and support for those afflicted with a mental illness, whether directly or through a family member or friend.

NAMI educates, advocates, listens and leads the fight to bring awareness and support for mental health and substance abuse issues.

Consider the following statistics as reported by NAMI and derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• One in five adults suffers from some form of mental illness.

• One in 20 lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

• Half of chronic mental illnesses begin by the age of 14.

• 75 percent develop by age 24.

NAMI defines a mental condition as an illness that “impacts a person's thinking, feeling or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis.”

It is possible to experience meaningful relationships and positive rolls in social, educational, and work situations while suffering from a mental illness. But recovery is dependent on early and committed treatment.

Several conditions fall under the mental illness umbrella and include:

• Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD.

• Anxiety Disorder.

• Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.

• Bipolar Disorder.

• Borderline Personality Disorder.

• Depression.

• Dissociative Disorders.

• Eating Disorders.

• Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD.

• Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD.

• Schizoaffective Disorder.

• Schizophrenia.

• Substance Abuse Disorder.

And that is where NAMI comes in.

NAMI Hernando began nearly 40 years ago. It continues to thrive in its own designated facility on Spring Hill Dr. The Beautiful Mind Center holds regular support groups, interactive events, and classes to help those with mental illnesses find support.

And the resources are expanding to provide support where needed.

“NAMI advocates and provides a voice for millions of Americans affected by mental illness while promoting state and federal public and private sector policies that ensure research, an end to discrimination and a promotion of effective mental health services and support.”

To help fund services, NAMI Hernando organizes two main events, Celebrity Lip Sync in the fall and Kentucky Derby Day in the Spring.

The Kentucky Derby Day was May 4 at Strong Tower Vineyard & Winery. Participants enjoyed an evening of hors d’oeuvres, wine tasting and contests for Ladies’ Fancy Hat and Best Men’s Derby Attire while supporting an important local resource.

If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health or substance abuse, NAMI Hernando can help. It can be reached at 352-684-0004. Or visit the Beautiful Mind Center at 10554 Spring Hill Drive. You can also visit the website at www.flnamihernando.org.