If you have a family member or friend in the mental health system, accessing that system can be daunting.
There is no simple road map to where you should go, who you should see, how it gets paid for, what insurance does or does not cover.
And it can become incredibly frustrating for the patient and the patient’s family.
Mental illness and addiction issues often occur together. And it doesn’t matter which one caused what symptom or behavior.
What does matter is that recovery is dependent in so many ways on a person’s support system, which means having family invested in positive outcomes.
The Jacksonville affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness offers Family to Family classes several times a year.
This class not only educates on general mental health issues, but provides networking and support through interaction with others living through similar circumstances.
A family member of a person living with mental illness recently stated this about the Family to Family class:
“We strongly believe (it) was worth the time to drive to attend the class. Our instructors followed a National Alliance on Mental Illness-provided manual that is the same nationwide and updated every year. The instructors are volunteers.
“You will move through the material at an appropriate pace leaving time to share personal stories (if you want to). We found out how other families dealt with issues that were similar to ones we faced and found out how others were more or less successful than we were. And as you might expect, we found out everyone’s family had unique challenges …. If you’ve been, tell a friend. If you haven’t, don’t wait. Go!”
One in four of us will have a diagnosable mental health disorder at some point in our life. And if it is not treated, it will lead to self-medication and potential addiction to legal and/or illicit substances.
We also know the earlier you seek treatment, the better the result.
While one class won’t solve our society’s lack of attention to these serious and sometimes deadly issues, it will certainly help to improve the flow of information and lessen the stigma.
It’s OK to ask for help when you need it, whether through the National Alliance on Mental Illness or other organizations focused on mental health.
Tara Wildes, president,
National Alliance on Mental Illness Jacksonville,