NAMI Will-Grundy's Mackey seeks to improve lives
As president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for Will-Grundy Counties, Teena Mackey focuses on supporting individuals with mental illness.
“In my experience serving individuals diagnosed with a mental illness and their families, I have found that peer support is a compelling force and, in my humble opinion, will be an integral part of support for individuals diagnosed with a mental illness and their families in the future,” Mackey told Will County Gazette. “NAMI sets itself apart from other services because all of the signature support groups and education programs are facilitated by folks who have lived with and experienced mental illness; they are either diagnosed with a mental illness or have a family member or loved one who is facing the challenge of a diagnosis of mental illness. These facilitators participate in an excellent training program ensuring their success as peer support providers.”
Mackey became a member of NAMI Will Grundy in 2007 and president in 2014.
“Serving as a volunteer for NAMI Will-Grundy has been a rewarding experience,” Mackey said. “There is a slogan that drives all of our efforts at NAMI Will Grundy, and that expression is ‘You are Not Alone.’ The stigma associated with a diagnosis of mental illness continues to be so pervasive in society that people who are either diagnosed with a mental illness or have a family member or loved one who is facing the challenge of a diagnosis of mental illness often state that they felt so absolutely alone as a result of the diagnosis.”
Mackey said education is the key to changing the way mental illness is viewed.
“Understanding that the diagnosis of a mental illness relates to a brain disease will help you to understand the challenges faced by individuals and their families each and every day and for a lifetime,” Mackey said. “Take a mental health first aid class, promote acceptance, resist stereotyping. Visit the NAMI National website for information relating to mental health and take the pledge to be stigma-free.”
Mackey was born in Alaska but has lived most of her life in Joliet. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of St. Francis and a Master of Arts in leisure administration from Aurora University.
Prior to joining NAMI, Mackey was in public service in the parks and recreation field for 25 years.
“In 2007 I chose a new career path returning to my interests in psychology and my undergraduate training, choosing to work with individuals diagnosed with mental illness and securing employment with Cornerstone Services, a community mental health agency,” she said.
Mackey currently serves as a coordinator of community housing at Cornerstone Services. She also works part-time for an agency called Help at Home that serves individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities. She is a volunteer teacher for the mental health first aid program, swim team coach for the Joliet Park District Special Olympics, and is active in the Special Olympics program.
“I believe that I have helped to improve the quality of life for many people,” Mackey said.
In her spare time, Mackey enjoys golfing, swimming and bicycling.