Submitted by Dewey McConville
The Daily Iowegian
---- — Mental illness is a “no fault” brain disease. The brain is a body part like all others, and the brain, too, can become ill. Serious mental illness affects one in every four Americans at some point in our lifetime. In Appanoose County, it is estimated that approximately 800 persons suffer from a chronic mental illness that often is untreated or undertreated. Some of these are children. The stigma surrounding mental illness can keep people from seeking medical treatment. The disease also takes a toll on all those who love them.
If you are a loved one of someone with a chronic mental illness, you probably have so many questions. What do I do if there is a crisis? How can I get a clear diagnosis for my family member? What exactly does this diagnosis mean for us? How do I communicate with my loved one? How do we communicate with his/her doctors and therapists?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. Members of NAMI are families, friends and people living with mental illnesses, such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. NAMI programs provide education, support and advocacy programs for all whose lives are affected by mental illness.
The first NAMI education program in Centerville will be the Family-to-Family Class. This is a free 12-week course for friends and family of persons with serious mental illness. Current information about each of the brain illnesses will be presented. This is also an opportunity to learn about medications and strategies for adherence to treatment. Special workshops will teach coping skills, problem solving and communication techniques.
Most importantly, family members will receive the support and understanding they need to deal with their situation. This NAMI training class will be held beginning Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 at the First United Methodist Church on North Main in Centerville from 6:30-9 p.m. Classes will be held each Tuesday evening for 12 weeks. Each participant will receive a large binder with class materials and information. There is no charge for the class or for the materials. You may inquire further or register at (641) 895-0074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are other excellent NAMI classes such as the NAMI Basics Program. This is a free six session course for parents and other care givers of children and adolescents living with mental illness. It is NOT necessary that the child has received a specific diagnosis.
The NAMI Peer to Peer Class is a free 10-week education course on the topic of recovery for any person with mental illness. Classes will be taught by mentors who themselves have achieved recovery from mental illness. This class teaches strategies for personal awareness and interpersonal awareness, coping skills and self care.
Although no definite Basics or Peer-to-Peer classes are scheduled at this time, you may inquire and receive further information at the same phone number and e-mail address listed above.
There are, in fact, hundreds of resources available through NAMI. You have access to all of these at www.NAMI.org. In spring, 2014, Appanoose County will establish local chapter of NAMI IOWA. Through monthly meetings, persons and families affected by mental illness can receive support, information and advocacy right here in Appanoose County.