Local group for caregivers of people with mental illness seeks participants

Staff Writer
Published: 8/17/2018 1:11:26 PM

Nearly one in five adults in America has a mental illness, and that frequently cited statistic doesn’t include the number of family members also touched by the common occurrence.

And yet, there is no playbook given to caregivers and loved ones of people with mental illnesses to help them figure out how to best help.

That’s where the National Alliance on Mental Illness has come in, providing assistance for not only those with mental illness, but also for those who assist them.

Starting Sept. 6, two local instructors will run a free, intensive program every Thursday in Greenfield. The course will span 12 weeks and include programming from family education to basics about brain biology, from problem solving workshops to learning to fight stigma.

People will leave feeling inspired, instructor Susan Sharbaugh said.

“We’re advocates for our loved ones now,” Sharbaugh said. “I think that’s what a lot of people get out of the class.”

Scharbaugh and fellow instructor Patti Cromack are looking for people to sign up for their class. There is a screening before people can take the class, which mostly evaluates a person’s commitment to the intensive course and whether they are in fact a caretaker of someone with a significant case of mental illness or a brain disorder.

The program brings in guests, like a person with mental illness, a lawyer and Greenfield Deputy Police Chief Mark Williams to discuss crisis intervention, among others.

In doing so, people in the class get both an education and a chance to be with others who are experiencing similar situations at home.

“A little bit is hope — maybe hope that there are things that I can do to get on with my life,” Cromack said.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at: jsolomon@recorder.com or at 413-772-0261, ext. 264.

Sign up

To sign up for the Greenfield program, contact the National Association on Mental Illness of Western Massachusetts based in Agawam at 413-786-9139, Susan Sharbaugh at 413-422-2144 or Patti Cromack at 413-824-9283.


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