Yesterday, I shared with you my review of Leaving The Hall Light On By Madeline Sharples.(To read my review, Click Here, or scroll down the page) While reading this heartfelt memoir, I found myself wondering what services, if any, were available to Madeline and her son. As a mother of a child with special needs, I know all too well the need for support services, as well as other educational and medical services.
Madeline has been gracious enough to join us here at the cottage today, to discuss her experience with support groups and services and where we can find them. Thank you Madeline for taking the time to share this with us...education and awareness provide a solid beginning.
The Support Services Available to Families Dealing with Mental Illness
One of my greatest regrets is that I did not try harder to find out what support organizations were available at the time my son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The couple of groups I attended early on were so depressing; and I didn’t believe my son was so sick that I needed to subject myself to that kind of “help.” How wrong I was!
Our son didn’t know enough about his illness either. I truly believe he felt the stigma and shame that can come with mental illness, and that is what kept him from seeking help and talking about it. We also didn’t know that brain illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other mood or anxiety disorders, when left untreated, may also result in suicide – my son took his life after a seven-year struggle with his illness.
Here is some information about a few support organizations. There are a lot of them out there, easily found through the internet.
From its inception in 1979, the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) has been dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.
They do this by:
- Educating people about mental illness
- Peer education and training programs, initiatives and services for individuals, family members, health care providers and the general public
- Being the voice on Capitol Hill and in state houses for the millions of Americans living with serious mental illness. [http://www.nami.org]
bringchange2mind, created by Glenn Close, who has a sister with bipolar disorder and a nephew with schizoaffective disorder. Its mission is to provide quick and easy access to information that combats stigma and quick and easy access to information and support for mental illness. [http://www.bringchange2mind.org]
The work Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services does to erase the stigma of mental health and to prevent suicide through its mental health programs and suicide support groups and suicide-prevention hotline would have been so useful to us while Paul was alive if only we had known that a place like Didi Hirsch existed. [http://www.didihirsch.org]
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention invests in research, new educational campaigns, innovative demonstration projects and critical policy work. It also assists people whose lives have been affected by suicide by reaching out to offer support and opportunities to become involved in prevention. [http://www.afsp.org]
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SA/VE) is dedicated to preventing suicide through public awareness and education, reducing the stigma of mentall illness, and serving as a resource to those touched by suicide. [http://www.save.org/]
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call for yourself or someone you care about. [http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/]
Also, a few organizations train young folks to help their peers such as:
- LifeSavers, a peer-support, suicide and crisis-prevention program developed to train young adults to be caring listeners in their interactions with their peers. [http://thelifesavers.net]
- Stop a Suicide Today, designed to teach family and friends the warning signs and how to respond. [http://www.stopasuicide.org]
- Samaritans USA, a coalition whose primary purpose is to befriend people who are depressed, in crisis, and suicidal. [http://www.samaritansnyc.org]