SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — May has been Mental Health Awareness since 1949 and the observance started with Mental Health America. One challenge for many people who think they need help is where to start.

Stephanie Appleby is the executive director for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Southwest Missouri. She said NAMI is a great place for those who are trying to learn to navigate life with their mental illness.

“I think when you are dealing with a mental health diagnosis you often feel alone,” said Appleby. “So, it’s neat to come here and be with peers and people who have been in the same circumstances.”

Appleby said the organization tries to eliminate barriers that other people have had to deal with to make it easier for those struggling with mental illness.

“We’ve all learned firsthand how to navigate the system,” said Appleby. “It’s very complicated and confusing.”

NAMI has a range of resources to help those who are living with a mental diagnosis such as housing and food pantries.

“We also provide resources, so if you are wanting to see a therapist we can help with that,” said Appleby. “Sometimes we’re able to help with medication depending on the funding we have at the time.”

Appleby said the stigma of mental illness is slowly diminishing but there are still barriers surrounding mental health.

“I think we are breaking the stigma as far as talking about it but I think we need to open up those resources more and get more resources for people who are struggling.”

NAMI Southwest Missouri offers support groups that are free to join as well as other resources for individuals and families dealing with mental health challenges.

Here is NAMI’s list of resources of crisis lines, including numbers for people who need help with suicide prevention, substance abuse, and domestic violence.

Mental Health America has a list of resources online, including how to recognize when you need mental health help, advice on building coping skills, stress management, and other areas of life that can affect mental health like food, exercise, and sleep.

Burrell Behavioral Health has facilities all over the southwest and central Missouri and northwest Arkansas. Burrell offers therapy, counseling, and more.