Despite the fact that nearly 60 million people in the U.S. are currently suffering from mental illness, many still feel all alone in their challenges. They suffer in silence. For those that have the support of family, friends and professionals, their caregivers tend to experience their own set of silent mental health challenges. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) made it their mission to end this when creating their first mental health app, AIR.
AIR stands for Anonymous, Inspiring and Relatable – the unique qualities missing from the current mental health app space. “When we first started looking at it we realized there’s a lot of health apps out there already, but what was really missing was sort of a place for people to come in easily and anonymously to get support or to share and connect with the community,” Katrina Gay, National Director of Communications of NAMI, explained in an interview with BlackDoctor.org.
AIR is not only for those directly living with mental health conditions, but also for caregivers. There oftentimes isn’t a place for family members and friends who deal with loved ones who have mental illness to share their feelings in an anonymous and respectful way, says Gay. “They don’t want to disclose because it’s not their place sometimes because their loved one may not want them to or they may not feel it’s their place to.” Creating a safe space for family and friends to enter the mental health conversation was a primary consideration in the development of the app.
Whether directly experiencing a mental health challenge, or caring for someone who is, the need for resources, information and emotional support are necessary and AIR provides this in one space. It’s a place where users can post comments and experiences, give feedback and get feedback and get encouragement and acknowledgement. Users can even get virtual “hugs”. It also a portal that can direct users to resources available in their local community and online.
“We want to make sure we’re letting people self navigate into the resources and the information that are available for
them,” said Gay, “when their ready, how their ready, and kind of on their own terms.”
NAMI’s AIR app is available for both iPhone and Android devices. For more information, click here.