“Jim and I have a 31-year-old daughter that was diagnosed with bi-polar at the age of 14 after her first attempted suicide with a gun. That was Jamie’s first hospitalization and over the last 17 years she has been in the hospital around 22 times,” Moore said. “We were devastated when she received her diagnosis of bi-polar. We had many questions — what is bi-polar? Will she get over this? How do we help her? And the list goes on and on. We were lost and did not know where to turn.
“We were fortunate that Jamie had a psychiatrist that directed us to NAMI to help answer those questions. Again we were fortunate that Rome had a NAMI affiliate, and we were quick to seek their support. Shortly after we joined, a course was offered free of charge to help us understand mental illness. Family to Family changed our lives and gave us answers.”
To help families in the area, NAMI will offer three upcoming seminars.
Held in Rome at the NAMI Rome Education Center located next to the Rome Crisis Stabilization Unit, 1 Woodbine Ave., Family to Family begins Saturday, Feb. 8, and a few slots remain.
Basics is a class similar to Family to Family but looks at childhood mental health disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and so on. It is a six-week course that begins Sunday, Feb. 16.
Also, NAMI offers a course specifically for adults with a mental illness. Peer-to-Peer is a 10-week course slated to begin in March. NAMI Rome also has two support groups that meet each Monday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. — except for the fourth Monday — at Rome First United Methodist Church, 202 E. 3rd Ave. One group supports adults with a mental illness, and the other helps adult family members and caregivers.
“In addition to acquiring a wealth of reading material and listings of mental health resources, the student finds that he or she is not alone in the journey. Fellow students share common interests and issues,” Moore said.
She said Family to Family taught the family they were not alone and allowed them to relate to those in similar situations.
“The three main things that F2F taught us: [One], we are not alone, and we could share without people that shared in the same struggles and that offered us hope. [Two], mental illnesses are brain disorders just like heart disease and diabetes. And, [three], it gave us tools to communicate with our daughter and help her when she needed help,” Moore said. “Because Jim and I were willing to learn about Jamie’s illness, it showed her we were there for the long haul to help her, and she then sought help to aid in her recovery.”
NAMI’s focus on firsthand teaching stands out for Moore.
“NAMI offers its educational courses and support groups from the viewpoint of the family member or the person living with a mental illness. The programs are based on ‘lived experiences,’ not from the clinical perspective. We have found help from someone walking in the same shoes as us to be most beneficial,” she said.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly 26 percent of Americans over 18 — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.
“When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion — about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 — who suffer from a serious mental illness,” according to NIMH’s website, www.nimh.nih.gov. “In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. Nearly half (45 percent) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for 2 or more disorders, with severity strongly related to comorbidity.”
Those statistics drive home the need for mental health services.
“Mental illnesses are disorders of the brain and treating the disorder takes the form of medication and individual and/or group therapy,” Moore said. “Unfortunately, many have to hunt far and wide to locate quality mental health services. NAMI’s educational programs give the student insight into where to locate services, questions to ask the mental health professional, and why recordkeeping is critical.”
For more information, contact Moore at 706-232-4607.