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Women Making a Difference: Angelina Hudson helps families deal with mental illness

HOUSTON – Navigating a mental health condition can be confusing and difficult, not only for the person experiencing symptoms, but for their family and friends as well.

Many advocacy groups around the country spend time trying to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness and connect patients and families with resources that can help them.

In Houston, Angelina Hudson works as the program director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness and her work centers around those very goals.

"We help families figure out what to do when they're facing a mental illness condition in their families,” Hudson said.

That might mean pointing families in the right direction for their loved one to be properly diagnosed and treated, or connecting them with support groups where they can speak with other people facing similar challenges.

Hudson acknowledges it can be a daunting process that may not seem as straightforward as the process for people with illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease.

"They don't understand the illness, that the brain is sick, and it's going to take time for the person to come back to a place where their brain is functional again," she said.

Hudson has dealt with the frustration of first not knowing what was wrong, and then not knowing where to turn. All three of her young children experienced some sort of mental health issue.

"NAMI was my first help, my first lifesaver. Both (of my children’s) illnesses are related to anxiety disorders, and NAMI has been an incredible support for me and my family," she said.

Now, Hudson works for NAMI to make sure other families’ paths to a solution are much more direct than hers was.

To learn more about NAMI and the support groups it offers, click the link here.

If you or someone you know is in crisis -- whether they are considering suicide or not -- please call the toll-free Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.