As some of you know, I have a particular interest in families with mental health conditions. My niece was diagnosed with Youth Onset Bipolar Disorder very young, my nephew has Autism Spectrum Disorder. As an uncle I tried to care for them over the years the best I knew how. I tried to be a caring uncle to them and a caring brother to my sister. Yet nothing prepares you for these things except experience, guidance from professionals, and other families with mental health issues. I made my share of mistakes, that is for certain. My sister frequently got help but not always the kind she really needed. Overtime however, you do start to learn a little better what to do and not to do, but I didn’t really understand until I brought all my experiences and failures to a class like Family-to-Family, a course put on by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Over 12 weeks I learned a lot about how to see things differently, and that helped me be more compassionate, and less angry and frustrated. Anyone who has gone through similar things knows, you do get angry sometimes and you’re frequently frustrated. The program helped me to consider, that if I was out of touch with what was happening in my own family, what hope do people removed from the day to day grind have in understanding. As a minister, I have wondered for a long time how our church family can begin to understand and encourage families like mine; to understand families that need patience, inclusion, kindness, and personal space. The answers don’t come easily; its going to require some education, planning, guidance, and awareness. During my time in Family-to-Family, I discovered that NAMI Central Middlesex was entertaining the idea of a Faith Leader & Lay Leader training. I inquired about the opportunity to help organize this kind of training and for the last 9 months we have been working hard to put it together. The Faith Leader Training is called, Bridges To Hope. It is a 3 hour training that includes,
· An informative overview of prevalent mental health myths and common symptoms of mental health disorders
· First steps to comprehensive Action plans for building “bridges to hope” with your faith community
· A tool kit of community mental health resources
Every house of worship can benefit from this program. If people in your community are anything like my family, you have people who believe that faith is something they want, but feel too overwhelmed by life to enter a place not prepared for them. This training is a powerful way to begin caring for these families. It will help you sort myths from facts, address many questions you have, and give you resources generated from years of firsthand experience.
Below is our flyer. Please feel free to print this out and post it in your house of worship. Registration is open and the training is free. I look forward to seeing you January 21st, 2020!