When a loved one develops a mental illness, family members and friends struggle to understand a disease that they know little about while dealing with their own cascade of emotions. Ill equipped to respond, families are further inhibited by society’s stigma towards mental illness and barriers presented by patient privacy laws. Recognizing these challenges, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a 12 week Family to Family Educational Series. Developed by Dr Joyce Burland, the program reflects her own experience with family members who developed mental illness. She suggests, “A core concept of the course is for family members to better appreciate the lived experience of someone who is living with a mental illness.” The program began in 1991 and was evaluated in a 2011 randomized controlled trial at the University of Maryland Medical School. Participants were significantly better able to cope and to resolve family and systems delivery problems. Families had a better understanding of mental illness and were less anxious than the control group (Harvard Mental Health Letter, 9/11).
The United Church of Christ Mental Health Network encourages churches to replace the stigma of mental illness with understanding and compassion. Our church has responded to the challenge by hosting NAMI events and Sunday Services along with taking part in interfaith and town wide Mental Health Initiatives. We hope you will consider our fall calendar of events and pass the information along to friends and neighbors.
An educational class for family and friends of individuals affected with mental illness/brain disorders. The program is free of charge but pre-registration is required. Contact Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-273-0811. Have a conflict with the Tuesday evening class? There is also a Thursday evening course in Bedford and a Saturday series in Belmont.
On behalf of the UCC Mental Health Network, I warmly invite you to attend our fourth WISE Conference on Mental Health. Being impacted myself by mental health conditions in my own family; I know this Conference does make a difference. It reduces the stigma about mental illness and increases our understanding of mental health conditions and how our congregations can respond. You will experience personal stories; and be introduced to the WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, Engaged) Covenant for congregations for mental health. Please join us. Learn more about the WISE Conference here.
See our monthly calendar for details.
Meg Hutchinson, songwriter, mental health advocate and creator of the film, Pack Up Your Sorrows-the Documentary says it best. “One of the common experiences of those of us living with mental illness is the feeling that our body has somehow betrayed us. To be diagnosed or to endure an excruciating bout of depression is to feel that our body is the enemy, that our body is where the illness lives. One of the gifts we can give ourselves is to recognize that our bodies are one of the greatest assets in our recovery. Through gentle yoga and meditation practices we will learn antidotes to insomnia, anxiety, and depression and rekindle a sense of safety and power in our recovery.”
Just as CPR helps a person assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid helps a person assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. Attendees learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help. Contact Amber Haines, LICSW at Winchester High School for details and to register.