NAMI Martinsville & Henry County, the local organization of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will offer a Family Support Group Program beginning in February. The first meeting will be held on Feb. 6 at NCI-The Baldwin Building at 191 Fayette St. in Martinsville at 7 p.m., and the first Tuesday of every month.
Michael Ward and his wife Melinda applied back in the spring to start a Martinsville-Henry County NAMI affiliate program after meeting informally with other parents of adult children with mental illness.
“We saw a large need here locally and folks did not want to have to drive all the way up to Roanoke for support and classes,” he said. “We want to try and help people and families that have had similar struggles as we have.”
The Ward’s oldest son was diagnosed with schizophrenia about 9 years ago. “We didn’t understand, know what to do or how to deal with it. We felt alone. NAMI Family Support helped tremendously,” Ward said. “We also attended the NAMI Family-to-Family 12-week course that dove a little deeper into what was going on, why, and how to react and empathize with our loved ones experiencing mental illness.”
The couple was certified recently to facilitate their own Family Support Group. The local NAMI affiliate has been approved on the state level and is awaiting national approval. They are also certified to facilitate Family-to-Family and Homefront, an educational program designed to help people who have a veteran loved one with mental illness. Ward said that they would start with the Family Support group first.
Ward said that his family is living proof that the programs work.
“The idea is to help families realize that they are not alone, and support them and their loved ones,” he added. “When the families helping to care for loved ones with mental illness are cared for and supported, they in turn can take better care for their loved ones.”
For information about the National Alliance on Mental Illness, check out their websites at nami.org or namivirginia.org.
If you would like more information about the upcoming Martinsville and Henry County Family Support Program, the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.