From left, Longport CFO Jenna Kelly, NAMI board member Francine Bates, NAMI President Gail Dembin and Margate CFO Lisa McLaughlin.

MARGATE – A local mental health support group is the recipient of the proceeds of a raffle held at the Downbeach municipal employees’ health fair Tuesday, Oct. 23. Members of the team that organized the event presented a check for $314 to the National Alliance for Mental Illness at the Margate City Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday, Nov. 1.

“We always hold a raffle and donate the proceeds to a local charity,” Margate CFO Lisa McLaughlin said. “To go along with our theme for the event, we decided to support NAMI, a local organization that helps millions of Americans who suffer from mental illness and their families.”

McLaughlin said the opiate addiction problem goes hand-in-hand with mental illness, because many individuals who suffer from mental illness try to self-medicate.

“Too many are losing their struggle with addiction and mental illness,” she said. “We are all affected by it. We need to raise awareness and break the stigma. It’s just as important at heart disease and cancer.”

The all-volunteer organization provides support, encouragement, education and advocacy to help those with mental health issues, which can cause isolation and misunderstanding.

Gail Dembin, president of the local affiliate, said although the donation amount is small, it will go a long way in helping the organization reach out to those who are afflicted with mental health issues and their caregivers.

“This is great,” she said. “Anything we can get helps defray the cost of what we do.”

NAMI Atlantic/Cape May members pay dues, but it barely covers the cost of reproducing materials, she said.

The organization offers a free 12-week family education course for those who have a family member diagnosed with mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression. The training program can provide family members with the coping skills needed to be caregivers.

“We can help them learn how to communicate with their loved one or deal with medications,” Dembin said.

The organization also provides guidance for families by providing resources and services available for the patient, and advocates for those who have mental illnesses by encouraging state and federal authorities to develop sound policies.

One in four adults, approximately 61.5 million Americans, have some form of mental illness. And about 20 percent of teens experience some form of mental disorders in any given year, according to statistics provided by the organization. However, only half will receive mental health services.

To learn more, see, call 609-927-0215 or email

Categories: Margate

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.