News Article Details

Free Burlington course supports families of mentally ill

Times-News - 8/10/2018

Aug. 09--Family members of individuals suffering from mental illness will have support, this September, thanks to a free class from the Alamance/Caswell/Rockingham chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The 12-week program, called "Family-to-Family," is taught by trained family members who have been in the same situation.

It will cover:

* How to manage crises, solve problems and communicate effectively;

* Taking care of yourself and managing your stress;

* Developing the confidence and stamina to provide support with compassion;

* Finding and using local supports and services;

* Up-to-date information on mental health conditions and how they affect the brain;

* Current treatments, including evidence-based therapies, medications and side effects; and

* The impact of mental illness on the entire family.

The class begins Tuesday, Sept. 11, and continues each Tuesday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Holly Hill Baptist Church, South Church Street and Edgewood Avenue.

Art Springer, president of the local NAMI chapter, and his wife Becky Springer, who serves as the secretary of affiliates, took the course around 10 years ago while struggling to deal with their mentally ill son.

Becky Springer says the information was invaluable, and it helps that the course is taught by family members who have experienced the same hardships.

That's why Tom White, who has taken the course twice, wanted to teach. His son suffered from mental illness before dying of a heart attack in 2016.

"That's the reason that I'm involved with this," White said. "I don't have someone involved with mental illness now, but I did have a son that had it, so I know the pain that other people go through in trying to provide help."

He hopes he can give them the same thing the program gave him: "A sense of not being alone."

"It is a sickness," he emphasized, adding that it affects families as much as any other, physical illness might, and they need the same level of support.

"I think that people could get a great deal of comfort out of the course," White said.

Reporter Jessica Williams can be reached at jessica.williams@thetimesnews.com or at 336-506-3046. Follow her on Twitter at @jessicawtn.

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