A Havre woman is working with the National Alliance for Mental Illness and the Center for Mental Health to create a 12-week course for helping friends and relatives of people with mental health issues.
Cindy Ellington, whose son has health issues, and Pam Veis from the Center for Mental Health, will teacher the NAMI-prepared course.
The first benefit is for the people — there is room for 25 — who take part in the class. They will learn just what they can do to help their loved ones and how to better understand what they are going through.
Often such classes lead to formation of support groups. Ellington said. The support groups enable people with similar problems to talk to each other. People can see they are not alone, that other people face similar issues, and that by talking to one another, they can better understand what is going on with their friends and relatives.
And, she said, the course may lead to a local NAMI chapter. Under the eadership of Executive Director Matt Kuntz, NAMI Montana has developed great programs for help the mentally ill and their friends and relatives.
The group has also been instrumental in helping the public better understand the various forms of mental illness. It has a vigorous program to lobby for mentally ill people.
Formation of a local chapter would benefit not only those afflicted with mental diseases, but also the entire community.
One of the best things that can be done for the mentally ill is help the community to understand what mental disease involves and what can be done to help friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members with the disease.
Ellington’s efforts could blossom into something great for Havre and the Hi-Line.
Too often, people with mental illnesses are shunned because of stereotypes that are shrouded in darkness. These programs could awaken Havre residents to the problems faced by mentally ill people and increase the chances of helping mentally ill people become or remain assets to the community.