Mikaela Grande

It was fall of Freshman year of college and I received the text message that would change my life forever. It was the simple words from my Mom of “call me when you get a chance.” Instantaneously, I knew something was wrong. After getting off the phone with her, I learned one of my family members was hospitalized for psychiatric purposes. Since that specific day, there has been numerous hospitalizations, medication changes and countless other programs that were completed.

Based on this experience, I know firsthand the feeling of being lost and like one’s world is collapsing from the effects a family member suffering from a mental health disorder. I understand, that the journey is a long and painful one that takes a toll on an entire family. My personal experience has provided me with the drive to support and advocate for those suffering from mental health disorders along with their families. NAMI was there for my family at the beginning and I want to be there to give back as much as I can. I personally do not think I can ever repay NAMI and the other utilized services during the struggle for how grateful and blessed I am to now be where my family and I are.

Since the intensity of the experienced symptoms, I have fully dedicated my life to the advocating for others. My goal is to become a Clinical Psychologist to continue to work as both an advocate and service provider.

NAMI NJ helps families like mine learn how to cope, and provides support so we can take care of ourselves and our loved ones. NAMI programs need funding to be made available free of cost to all families and individuals who are affected by mental illness. Please take a moment this holiday season to support NAMI by donating online at www.naminj.org.