Mental health education program to be offered in Clark County

Angela Dugger, executive director for National Alliance on Mental Illness Clark, Greene and Madison Counties, will co-teach a free 12-week program on how to deal with others experiencing mental illness beginning in January. CONTRIBUTED
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Angela Dugger, executive director for National Alliance on Mental Illness Clark, Greene and Madison Counties, will co-teach a free 12-week program on how to deal with others experiencing mental illness beginning in January. CONTRIBUTED

A free evidence-based program designed to educate people interested in knowing more about how to deal with mental illness in those close to them will be available in January from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Clark, Greene and Madison Counties.

NAMI Family-to-Family is a 12-week education course for family members, partners, friends or significant others who want to know more about how to support family members or others with mental illness and maintain their own well-being. The program will be offered 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays beginning Jan. 11 at the Vernon Center, 222 East St.

NAMI Clark, Greene and Madison Counties executive director Angela Dugger looks forward to co-teaching the program on Saturday mornings with Erica Picklesimon, even after already putting in 40 hours during the week.

“I choose to come in; it means so much to me,” said Dugger. “What we do is so different.”

The course, funded by the United Way, follows a mandated national curriculum and will include information on various mental illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and other conditions.

Dugger said one of the components is reflective listening, where participants can learn from each other. Past classes have produced long-lasting relationships of those supporting each other, some of whom still come back to visit.

“NAMI believes in that. It’s where you find if something works for you then maybe it can work for me,” she said. “The support happens, but education is the goal.”

Another key is the “a-ha moment,” where someone grasps what’s going on. Dugger related the story of a mom intent on blaming her son for his mental illness, but through the program, learned that it was the fault of the illness and not him personally.

Although the 12 weeks seems like a long commitment, Dugger encourages those with a real interest to make the commitment as the steps build upon each other as the weeks succeed.

Another alternative NAMI also offers is a similar program held the fourth Thursday of each month. There will also be another 12-week program offered in August.

“I’m not there as an executive director, I’m there as a peer who has dealt with this in my personal life,” Dugger said. “It can truly change lives and minds.”

To register or for more information, call 937-322-5600 or go to www.namicgm.org/.