NAMI offers free class for caregivers

A free class for parents, grandparents or other caregivers of children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral or mental health issues will be offered in April by NAMI Four County.

The five week class will be held Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. starting April 16 at the Four County ADAMhs Board office, T-761 State Route 66 south of Archbold. The class, called NAMI Basics, was professionally developed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Valarie Lashaway, the class coordinator, explains the information covered is geared to parents and caregivers who have either thought about or sought professional help for their child’s mental health problems including ADHD, depression, or other mood disorders.

“If you are worried about your child’s constant irritability or unhappiness, or, if you feel like you’re walking on eggshells for fear of setting off another outburst, then the class is for you,” Lashaway said. “Or, if your child’s behavior is creating problems at school and you are wondering what is behind all of this and what can be done, then the class will begin to provide some answers.”

The class has three goals for participants.

• To give the parent or caregiver the basic information necessary to provide the best care possible for their child, their family and themselves.

• To help the parent or caregiver cope with the impact that mental illness has on the child living with the illness and the entire family, and

• To provide tools for the parent or caregiver to use after completing the program that will help them make the best decisions possible for the care of their child.

During the five weeks, the following topics and more will be covered: the emotional stages that the family goes through (crisis, shock, denial, grief and acceptance), help to understand what the child or teenager is going through, and current information about the best practice treatment options for illnesses such as attention deficit disorder, major depression, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, anxiety disorders and substance abuse.

Some classes will help the parent with problem-solving, listening and communication skills, while others will focus on strategies that can be helpful when dealing with challenging behaviors of their child. The class will also help the parent or caregiver understand how to seek help form the school system as well as the mental health system. Time will be spent on planning for crisis management and relapse.

The class leaders have completed a training to teach the class and are parents of children with emotional, behavioral or mental health issues.

Participants will be given a binder for the numerous hand-outs that they will receive each class.

Although the class is free, pre-registration is necessary so the appropriate number of hand-outs can be printed. To register or get more information about the class, please call Valarie Lashaway at 419-591-6986 by Friday, April 8.