BY AUDREY KENT
FOR THE OBSERVER
EAST ALABAMA —
The East Alabama National Alliance on Mental Illness, also called NAMI, is sponsoring a local peer education group for families struggling with a mental health crisis or have a family member struggling with mental health.
This peer education group will be an 8-week course co-facilitated by leaders with experience caring for a loved one with a serious mental health issue.
Classes will begin Oct. 9 at Auburn United Methodist Church and will be held Monday nights from 6 to 8:30 p.m. There is no deadline to sign up.
A light meal will be served, and there is no cost to sign up for the course.
“There are many people struggling, and we’d like to get those family members in for the class,” said Dan Keidel, peer leader and volunteer for NAMI. “It’s totally free. It’s paid for by me. We give out books probably four inches thick with a lot of information. We go through every page.”
This will be Keidel’s third time teaching a course.
The class consists of 10 to 12 people and will be instruction and discussion.
The course will offer current information about mental health conditions, treatment options, medications and their side effects, communication skills, problem-solving, crisis intervention, resource information and self-care and stress management for family members.
“What we try to do is emphasize but also inform those struggling is that we get it, we have resources,” Keidel said. “So, what our standards and our purpose is, is to educate pretty thoroughly. We’re trying to move people from a crisis situation, where they’re overwhelmed, to a coping area but then off to advocacy. Because that’s when you’re most your best, is when you’re trying to advocate not only for your loved ones, but for others, too.”
NAMI was founded in 1979 and offers support in multiple locations nationwide. NAMI advocates for families and individuals affected by mental illness, as well as aiding those struggling through educational courses.
“Families are the principal caregivers to their family members,” Keidel said. “That’s why we’re helping family members. Family members are a critical resource.”
For questions or to register, call Emilyn Gipson at 334-444-4032 or Keidel at 678-296-6976.
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, you can call NAMI’s toll-free helpline at 800-950-NAMI.