Starting college at The University of Alabama, I knew I wanted to get as involved as I could since I wasn’t as involved in high school because of my time commitment to my dance team. I immediately got involved with my sorority, spending a ton of time working on recruitment and member experience as the Vice President of Membership. The year I had this position was also the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused UA to send its students home for half a semester. When I was sent home for over four months, I spent a lot of time alone and buried in my own thoughts. My mental health really went downhill during this time and I went into a really dark place.
When we were able to go back to school, my mental health just continued to spiral and things were just getting worse. I almost never left my room and was really struggling to maintain relationships. It wasn’t until a few months into the semester where I decided to reach out for help. I started seeing a therapist and talking through my thoughts, however change did not come quick or easy. I ended up going home at the end of the semester and at that point was struggling more than ever.
After break was over, I was in a little bit of a better place. I went back to school and continued to see the same therapist virtually. I made the decision to move out of my sorority house and into an off campus house to help my recovery, which ended up contributing greatly. The first few weeks of this semester were going really well and I was finally starting to see some improvement. This semester brought on a lot of change because many of the things I was previously involved in had just ended, so I was looking for other ways to take up my time, specifically with things I greatly enjoyed.
One night I checked my phone and had a message from one of my sorority sisters, Lexie, in our sorority group chat. She said that she was looking to start a campus chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and wanted to see if anyone was interested in helping her get it running. I jumped right on this opportunity, as I had just begun my mental health healing process and wanted to spread awareness. I met with Lexie and a few other sorority sisters the next day and we got things up and running pretty quickly after that. We decided to call ourselves BAMA NAMI and we named Lexie as the President.
Our first semester as a club on campus was an interesting one. It consisted of a probationary period with the university, meetings, and paperwork upon paperwork upon more paperwork. We had weekly meetings with our members and held some events throughout the semester. We had a percentage day with Blenz Bowl food truck, where a portion of the proceeds from that day would be donated to NAMI. We also held our first ever Stress Awareness week, with a different event each day to help ease students’ stress by selling candy grams, posting graphics on social media, and more.
BAMA NAMI is currently in our second semester of being an official club on UA’s campus. We have made many changes after evaluating how things went last semester. Lexie had to leave school for the semester, so I have taken over as President and am enjoying every moment. This club has my whole heart. I have gone through my own mental health struggles and now that it is about a year later I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I want to help as many people as I can understand that there will be a light at the end of their tunnel, no matter how long that tunnel might seem right now. I also want to bring awareness to mental health issues because it can also affect people who don’t specifically have a mental health disorder. Knowing someone struggling or even just having a bad day can be extremely difficult and I want to educate people on what to do.
I really feel like BAMA NAMI has touched so many people already in its short time here, and I could not be more appreciative of everyone who has gotten the club to where it is today. Looking forward to next semester, we hope to plan a big fundraiser and to expand our membership so that we can help more people through their struggles while also spreading awareness. Although I went through a really hard time mentally, I would probably not be a member of BAMA NAMI without it. I have learned so much throughout this journey and I cannot wait to help others through their mental health journey.
If you want to keep up with BAMA NAMI, you can follow us on Instagram @bama.nami or visit our website https://sites.google.com/view/bama-nami.
Thank you Camden for writing this post! I absolutely love being part of BAMA NAMI, and I am so proud it is here to stay at UA!! Be sure to get connected with this club!