NAMI OBX established to support mental health in the Outer Banks – OBX Today

NAMI OBX established to support mental health in the Outer Banks - OBX Today

NAMI OBX, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) announces the formation of an Outer Banks chapter to provide additional support mental health programs for adults and adolescents living with mental health issues in our communities from Corolla to Ocracoke.  This chapter was made possible by community members who have been affected by relationships with people with mental health issues; some who have family members, and others who directly work with people with mental health issues.

NAMI, established in 1979, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives. NAMI is a 501(c)(3)nonprofit organization with chapters in 49 states and has over 600 affiliates. NAMI OBX operates under the North Carolina State Chapter.

As a NAMI affiliate, NAMI OBX will offer free education and support programs to people in our community living with mental illness, whether that is as a lived experience, family member or friend. These programs are designed to offer support, encouragement, and resources in addition to their existing therapies or treatments. NAMI has programs designed for adults and for adolescents to help them to gain a better understanding of their mental health, coping skills and a community of support in their recovery. All facilitators are volunteers and have been trained and certified through NAMI national. 

“As parents of a child with a mental health disorder, we have participated in NAMI education programs and support groups for over five years. It has been invaluable in helping us learn to understand and cope with our loved one’s experiences,” said Kathy Cooper, Co-Chair of NAMI OBX.  Mrs. Cooper’s husband, Phil serves as Co-chair. NAMI Vice Chair is Dr. Richard Martin, Ed.D., LCAS, CCS.  

NAMI plans to hold local awareness events to introduce NAMI OBX to our Outer Banks community through a series of upcoming NAMI OBX Town Hall Meetings from Corolla to Ocracoke between April 24th and May 13th. The presentation is thirty minutes, after which we will hold a question and answer session and invite the audience to participate in a dialog to better understand the needs and concerns of the community.  All meetings will begin at 6:30 pm.  The meetings are scheduled for: April 24 at Holy Redeemer by the Sea Catholic Church; May 1 at the Fessenden Community Center; May 6 at the College of the Albemarle, Dare County campus; and May 9 at St. Andrews by the Sea.

Local resident Dr. Richard Martin, a North Carolina Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist and a Certified Clinical Supervisor, has been a longtime advocate for those affected by mental health issues. “Mental Health has been a top concern  in our community for years. Establishing a NAMI affiliate gives our community access to a wide array of resources to address the mental health challenges faced by individuals and families. For those that ask what can be done and how to help, I can’t think of a better answer than to Join NAMI Outer Banks,” said Martin. Martin’s career includes a 20-year career in substance abuse services at multiple North Carolina community mental health centers, 10 years as an Alternative School Principal and currently serves on the John T. Edwards Foundation hosting a monthly family therapy seminar and the North Carolina State Collaborative School Based Mental Health subcommittee.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month.  On May 18th an inaugural NAMIwalk OBX will be held in Kill Devil Hills, beginning at Aviation Park. This awareness walk will allow residents to walk and talk with us about mental illness in the Outer Banks and help raise funds for our programs locally. There is no cost to walk, but donations are welcome. The walk will be 3 miles and begins at 9 a.m. For more information, please contact Kathy Cooper at