I volunteer with Creative Expressions with NAMI. I started in July of 2016. As a consumer, I used to attend NAMI Support Groups. I felt I learned as much as I could with the consumer groups. I wanted to do more, and since NAMI has helped me get through so much of my mental health wellness journey, I figured it was time for me to give back.
At the time I started volunteering, I wasn’t working and needed something to get me out of the house, start a new routine, and do something I enjoyed (working with children and music). NAMI Creative Expressions gave me hope on sharing what talents I have with our community. I personally enjoyed preparing and working with Creative Expressions Creative Kids Program.
By becoming a facilitator with the program, it helped me come out of my shell and eased my transition of being in public. The program helped me grow to be a consistent dependable person. It also prepared me to use important life skills of working with others and trouble shoot problems as needed. At our meetings, I learned how to use visual art as a coping skill. I was also able to share my ideas on how music form of art can be incorporated with expression of moods with visual art. Teaching how to incorporate these skills with others, helped me practice at home the new concepts I’ve learned. I’ve facilitated at large group sessions for the public as needed. After a year of volunteering with this group my Doctor decided that I was able to start working again part time because I proved to myself that I could do more with my diagnosis, and become healthier with this program.
I continue to volunteer because the community needs a program like this. There are a lot of creative people out there that need more than a “talk” support group, like myself for an example. It is great seeing people of all ages learn a new skill, help them open up, ask questions, break the stigma, and learn that there are people like me that can get healthy and contribute. I’m so thankful for this program! It is truly a life changing experience. I thought being diagnosed with a mental illness would keep me from having a better life. I am proof that people can change, learn new ideas, learn new skills, and lead by example.
– Sarah Bradish, Creative Expressions Facilitator