When a loved one gets sick it's not uncommon for neighbors to reach out with consoling gifts of casseroles and cookies.
"But with mental illness nobody knocks on the door," said Jacqueline Gomez-Arias, programs coordinator for the Utah chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
To fill the void, and break through the isolation, NAMI sponsors free educational seminars for friends and families of Utahns living with mental illness. Registration is now open for the next 12-week series, which starts this week.
Styled after a support group, the family-to-family seminar is run by NAMI-trained individuals who have attended the seminar in years' past. It's a three-month commitment, running Wednesday evenings from April 10 through June 26 in the education center at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City (8th Avenue and C Street).
But those who go the distance, said Gomez-Arias, will learn critical coping mechanisms and tools for advocating for their loved ones â "stuff that the mental health system isn't equipped to help families understand," she said.
Attendees learn through role-playing and other exercises what it's like to be diagnosed with various mental illnesses, and what side effects to expect from treatment, said Gomez-Arias. "It arms them so they know what questions to ask providers. They'll learn empathy and how to communicate with their loved ones."
Coinciding with the seminar is a free, 12-week recovery course for Utahns diagnosed or experiencing symptoms of mental illness.
Attendees will learn how to manage their disease and get past crises and suicidal thoughts, said Gomez-Arias. "It empowers them to accept their illness, to embrace it, and to learn to live with and manage it."
Coping with mental illness
The Utah chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) sponsors two coinciding seminars for Utahns living with mental illness and their families. It's not too late to register for the next free, 12-week series, which starts this week, April 10 through June 26.
It runs every Wednesday from 7-9:30 p.m. in the education center at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City (8th Avenue and C Street).
For more information, call 801-323-9900 or email Rebecca@namiut.org.