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NAMI hopes to ‘rejuvenate’ Boyle chapter

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Kentucky is attempting to rejuvenate its Boyle County chapter after being inactive for several months.

NAMI is a “grassroots, self-help support, education and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with severe mental illness and their families,” according to its fact sheet. There are 20 NAMI affiliates, or chapters, throughout Kentucky and two more are currently being organized.

On Tuesday, Melony Cunningham, executive director of NAMI Kentucky was at the Bluegrass Comprehensive Care Center in Danville. She met with several people who were there wanting to find out more about NAMI and how the organization can help adults and children with mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, panic and severe anxiety disorders, suicidal behaviors, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorders and substance misuse disorder, Cunningham said.

Membership in NAMI is $5 a year, Cunningham said, and gives members access to free support groups and classes led by trained individuals who have been diagnosed with a brain disorder or who have a family member who’s been diagnosed.

To lead a group or class, the member must be trained in by the NAMI model, Cunningham said, which takes between two and three days. And all of the training is free, she added. “You help others by helping yourself, but you have to be trained.”

A few of the member-led programs and classes offered by NAMI include:

• Family-to-Family — a course for families of adults with mental illness that provides communications and problem-solving techniques, coping mechanisms, local resources and the self-care skills needed to help their loved ones and manage the impact on their families.

• Basics — an educational program for parents and primary caregivers of children and adolescents with mental illness that provides learning and practical insights and resources for families.

• Family support groups — a non-judgmental and confidential setting where family members share experiences and learn from listening to others.

• Connection — a recovery support group for adults with diagnosed mental illness.

• Homefront — a free, six-session program for family, friends and partners of military service people and veterans who have mental health conditions. It focuses on the unique needs of military and veteran communities, such as post-deployment and post-discharge transitions.

One in four people are affected by mental illness, Cunningham said.

“Just like we have physical illnesses, mental illness is an illness of the brain, or your mental health.”

During Tuesday’s informational meeting, Cunningham was also making a list of people who want to attend the first “reorganizational” meeting for Boyle’s NAMI affiliate “and get it going.”

To find how to become involved in re-establishing the NAMI chapter in Boyle County, you may call the NAMI Kentucky office at (606) 677-4066.