NAMI, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals afflicted by mental illness and their family, friends and caregivers.
Its local affiliate, NAMI Bradley County, includes support groups as well as classes. The 30 local members includes a mixture of those with a mental illness as well as the family, friends and caregivers of people with long-term mental illness. Here they learn about mental illness, how to support each other and how to educate their communities for change.
NAMI Bradley County offer classes like With Hope In Mind, for families and friends of those with mental illness. Also the group helps coordinate other classes that provide education and practical suggestions for recovery. Michelle Randles, president of NAMI Bradley County, said most people join NAMI because they or someone in their lives — someone they love — has a mental illness and they are looking for information and hope, which they can receive through trained volunteers who have experienced the impact of mental illness.
“Our ‘With Hope In Mind’ program will provide you with timely information on the latest services in your community, new medications, treatments and coping skills,” she said. “You will see how other families have coped and managed, and continue to have hope.”
Amy Mills, treasurer of NAMI Bradley County, said, “In this program, you will learn you are not alone. You will walk through the various phases of awareness, acknowledgement and acceptance. Meeting others who have similar situations will help make your situation seem less unusual and extraordinary. Additionally, we will provide encouragement, reassurance and understanding.”
The With Hope In Mind class concluded on July 31. It offered workshops covering immediate coping skills for dealing with the different cycles of each illness, including crisis planning, the major medical aspects of bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depression, schizophrenia and other anxieties.
“Last year we had about 25 to graduate from With Hope In Mind workshops,” Randles said.
The workshops also feature detailed information on medications, information on community resources and services, treatment concepts and empathy for the person affected by mental illness, collaboration with professionals and rehabilitation and recovery based on hope and support.
Randles said in addition to classes, a bi-monthly support group meets on the second Tuesday of each month and fourth Thursday of each month at Hiwassee Mental Health’s DAKODA Place, Peer Support Center at 940 South Ocoee St. in Cleveland.
At a recent NAMI Bradley County support group meeting Randles hosted guest speaker Dr. Carolyn Dobbins, therapist and author of “What a Life Can Be: One Therapists Take On Schizo-Affective Disorder.” Different guest speakers will be featured at most Thursday meetings. Upcoming speakers will include a representative from the Dakoda Peer Support Center, a representative from the AIM Center of Chattanooga and representatives from Social Security Advocates, The Caring Place and Pine Ridge Treatment Center.
Previous speakers have included local counselors Emily Stone and Jacqueline Brown as well as David Webb from Hiwassee Mental Health Center.
“We’re averaging 20 to 30 attending our bimonthly support group,” Randles added. We’d like to welcome more families as well as those with mental illnesses. We have support groups for both.”
According to Randles, With Hope In Mind is more than a program involving classes and support groups. She said it is the “coming together of many families and friends and primary caregivers to help one another deal more effectively with the impact and effects of mental illness.”
When you join NAMI you automatically become a member at national, state and local levels. Members receive magazines and newsletters to keep them up-to-date on developments affecting persons with mental illness, as well as the latest news about research, treatment and notices about upcoming classes and conferences.
NAMI Bradley County is sponsored in part by a grant from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. NAMI Tennessee is part of the national support and advocacy group, NAMI national. Founded in 1979, NAMI has more than 220,000 members nationally and affiliate groups in all 50 states, making it the country’s largest organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons affected by serious mental illness.
Randles said NAMI Bradley County is dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life of all those whose lives are affected by every form of mental illness.
“We provide classes that help families cope with the effects of mental illness,” Randles said. “Our mission is accomplished through mutual support, education and advocacy. We want to educate the public to dispel the myths and overcome stigmas associated with mental illness, and build support and understanding for the mentally ill to open opportunities for them in the community.”
For further information on NAMI Bradley County and to sign up for the free course, contact Michelle Randles at 716-3726 or email: email@example.com. Future classes will be offered as the classes fill.