Help is on the way for families, others affected by mental illness

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ST. GEORGE — Educational classes provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah, or NAMI, begin Jan. 14 at the St. George branch of the Washington County Library.

From its inception in 1977, NAMI has been committed to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness through education, support, and advocacy. NAMI’s support and public education efforts are focused on educating communities about mental illness, offering resources to those in need and creating awareness, which promotes a promise of recovery to those affected.

The organization offers an array of education and training courses and provides access to a wide range of resources that many are unaware even exist, NAMI Utah Southwest affiliate program director Pam Connors said.

The course schedule consists of 12 classes running every Thursday for 12 weeks ending with a graduation scheduled for the middle of April, Connors said.

The “Bridges” course is designed for those directly affected by mental illness and is a peer-to-peer class taught by trained facilitators who have personal experience with the many struggles associated with this condition.

Course topics include the following:

  • Foundation of BRIDGES
  • Mood Disorders: Depression, Bipolar Disorder
  • Thought Disorders: Schizophrenia, Relapse Prevention and Recovery
  • Anxiety and Further Disorders
  • Helpful Support
  • Medications & The Brain
  • Problem Management
  • Communication
  • Class topic chosen by the class
  • Dual-Diagnosis
  • Healthy Behaviors
  • Advocacy and Graduation

The second course, “Family to Family,” is primarily for family members involved with those affected by severe mental illness and is taught by trained individuals who have extensive experience in this area because they have family members who are affected as well.

Course topics include:

  • Current information about schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder (manic depression), panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, co-occurring brain disorders and addictive disorders
  • Up-to-date information about medications, side effects, and strategies for medication adherence
  • Current research related to the biology of brain disorders and the evidence-based, most effective treatments to promote recovery
  • Gaining empathy by understanding the subjective, lived experience of a person with mental illness
  • Learning in special workshops for problem solving, listening, and communication techniques
  • Acquiring strategies for handling crises and relapse
  • Focusing on care for the caregiver: coping with worry, stress, and emotional overload
  • Guidance on locating appropriate support and services within the community
  • Information on advocacy initiatives designed to improve and expand services

Both classes provide information and resources facilitated by trained volunteers who have experience with mental illness and the effects on the family. Classes, instruction, and course materials are provided free of charge.

One critical element that most of the participants find through these courses is understanding, Connors said. Instruction, information, and resources are vital to both the person struggling with mental illness and to their family members, but understanding is what many are seeking amidst the struggles, she said.

Course reservations are not mandatory, however to ensure that all attendees are provided course materials reservations are preferred.

For additional information please contact program director Pam Connors  via email or call 541-331-0711.  Course reservations are not mandatory, however to ensure that all attendees are provided course materials reservations are preferred.

Event details

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.


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1 Comment

  • beentheredonethat January 9, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    Being that we’re in Utah, surely pain killers and antidepressants will be part of the program? Perhaps the first or second week into the program? It’s Utah!!!!!

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