NAMI offering free 12-week mental health program 

Staff Writer
Published: 7/11/2019 5:22:10 PM
Modified: 7/11/2019 5:22:00 PM

Each year, people throughout the nation are diagnosed with a mental illness, leaving caretakers to wonder if they’re providing their loved ones with the right care.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness aims to take the guesswork out of the equation by providing a free 12-week program from Sept. 5 through Nov. 21 that will help not only people with mental illnesses, but also their caregivers.

One of the instructors, Susan Sharbaugh, said about 16 people will be able to sign up for the program that will be held every Thursday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. She said those who are enrolled will be given details about where the classes will be held. People who call with interest will be interviewed to see if they qualify.

“We’ll cover all sorts of things, like how to communicate with the person and caregiver, the biology of mental illness, basic anatomy, medications, the law and problem solving, as well as learning how to fight the stigma,” Sharbaugh said. “Everything.”

Sharbaugh said people will leave the program feeling inspired and more understood, noting that caregivers are advocates for their loved ones and need all of the information they can obtain.

“People will get a lot out of the classes,” she said.

One of last year’s participants, who did not want to be identified, said all participants are given many opportunities to tell their stories and to receive support from course leaders and other course participants during and after the course. She said guest lecturers provide additional valuable information.

To sign up for the program, call Sharbaugh at 413-422-2144 or call the National Association on Mental Illness of Western Massachusetts in Agawam at 413-786-9139.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Western Massachusetts is a nonprofit with volunteers who work to raise awareness and provide essential education, advocacy and support group programs for people living with mental illness, as well as their caregivers. All programs are offered at no cost to the public. The Agawam office at 324A Springfield St. provides a lending library and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.




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