Syracuse’s National Alliance on Mental Illness Chapter Focuses on Men’s Mental Health Men’s Mental Health at Forefront of Syracuse’s NAMI Chapter

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Kate Hayden and her husband started attending meetings at the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Syracuse when their son was diagnosed with schizophrenia. 

June is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month and Hayden said NAMI helped navigate the difficult process of helping her son, who doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong with him.

“It’s not easy to deal with someone,” Hayden said. “NAMI has a wealth of programs that will teach you how to live with someone with a mental health diagnosis.”

Historically, shame and guilt are associated with men’s mental health when it comes to discussing their feelings. Through patience and persistence, many men are able to break down those walls. However, Marla Byrnes said there are still a lot of fears when coming forward.

“People just have had so many obstacles in their way, to keep them from seeking help because they just felt ashamed,” Byrnes said.

NAMI has Zoom meetings that people can attend confidentially and anonymously. Through school outreach programs, young men are more willing than ever before to talk about their feelings.

As much as families can support their loved ones, NAMI volunteer Linda Lazzari said the motivation needs to be there.

“Men who do finally admit that they could use some help and come in are generally very motivated to get better,” Lazzari said.

When people attend the meetings, NAMI said they aren’t required to participate. Jeremy Montague, the interim executive director, said listening to others can help people tell their own story.

“Listening is the most important thing to begin with,” Montague said. “If you’re listening, then you’ll be a little bit more open.”

Now a volunteer, Hayden said her husband wasn’t initially comfortable in participating in the NAMI meetings, even though he wanted to help their son. Hayden believes having the conversation was really important.

“My husband wasn’t as comfortable even though he was trying to save his son’s life,” Hayden said.  “He had to learn, and now he is much more comfortable.”

For more information, people should call 211 or visit NAMI’s Syracuse website.

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