ST. GEORGE — September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, something which the National Alliance on Mental Illness takes very seriously – especially in Utah where the number of deaths by suicide is consistently above the national average. In recognition of the need to educate and support the community in efforts to decrease suicide, NAMI Utah is launching new, free online programs.
According to a press release from NAMI Utah, starting this month, the public can attend free one-hour seminars where they will hear stories from Utahns who share their mental health stories of how they have successfully navigated their mental illness.
These online workshops, called “In Our Own Voice,” are offered the first and third Thursdays of the month from 7-8 p.m. To register and for more information contact Victoria at [email protected] or 385-626-4672.
Also commencing in September are free online QPR suicide prevention trainings that teach how to effectively communicate with someone is suicidal and how to get them help.
Wayne Connors, chapter president for NAMI Utah Southwest, told St. George News that QPR stands for “Question, Persuade, Refer.” He said the trainings and technique offer a “very beginning to expose the deep dark secret the suicidal person thinks they are holding and brings it out in the open.”
“It is a short 1 to 1/2-hour program to give friends and relatives a way to try to save someone in deep depression, not wanting to go on and who thinks life is not worth living,” Connors said. “It is not easy to confront people close to you about suicide or the anticipation of it. QPR classes give a way to do that confrontation in a loving, meaningful way. This is another proven way to confront mental illness with meaningful results.
Benee Larsen, NAMI Utah’s Prevention by Design director, said NAMI Utah is very excited to be able to offer this evidence-based training on a monthly basis.
“Research shows that simply asking the right question can save a life,” Larsen said in the press release.
Additionally, NAMI Utah offers a host of online classes and support groups for anyone with a mental health condition and family members of loved ones with mental health conditions. All NAMI meetings, podcasts and online support are open to all and free, Connors said.
One of the most popular online programs is Connection, a support group for adults with mental health conditions. Participants are given a safe, confidential, virtual space to share their experiences with one another, receiving support and resources from their peers. Led by NAMI certified facilitators who have mental health conditions themselves, these groups have increased in popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ammon Robinson was NAMI Utah’s support group facilitator of the year in 2019. He has been involved with NAMI Utah for over a decade. Initially he was reluctant to participate online, the press release stated, but he soon discovered that the virtual experience is just as effective as in-person groups.
“I was surprised that online support groups work so well. I thought it would be awkward and uncomfortable. In some ways meeting online makes it easier. Everyone gets to talk, and it’s an extra supportive environment.”
Robinson also teaches NAMI’s online Peer-to-Peer class, an eight-week course for adults with mental health conditions. This class teaches basic mental health education, treatment options, safety planning, recovery, self-help strategies, communication tips, deep breathing and goal setting.
“What is powerful about the Peer-to-Peer class is that in addition to learning real life tools for coping, we all come together relating to each other’s experiences. It helps me remember that I am not alone. This class also helped me take personal responsibility for my mental health.”
For more information about NAMI Utah’s free online programs visit the NAMI Utah website, like NAMI Utah on Facebook, and follow NAMI Utah on Instagram.
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