By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
October 2, 2009
The real experts are sometimes the ones who go through a trial, tribulation, or situation themselves or with someone close to them. The families and friends who joined together to form what is now called NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) wanted to know the hows and whys people suffered from the medical condition of a mental illness. They also wanted to know what they could do to help.
Over the years NAMI grew and so did its resources and outreaches. Just as in any large organization not everyone always agreed on everything, but the basic goals remained the same and NAMI continues to grow.
People have counted on NAMI when they discover they, a family member or friend has been diagnosed with a medical condition of a Mental Illness for information and support. It can be a frightening experience to hear a diagnosis of a Mental Illness has been made. Many questions come up. Then the long standing stigma that has survived thousands of years, because of misconceptions and misinformation, starts to flood in. Friends and family start keep an ever increasing distance and this is just the beginning.
Local affiliates often have events to publicize the fact that help, support, and information is available. In this state NAMI has an annual convention. The 2007 state convention was held in Framingham. Unlike many conventions, NAMI State Conventions offer many informational workshops. This year’s state convention will be held in Springfield, MA Saturday October 24th. By the way my mother who was one of the founders of NAMI in MA would celebrate her birthday on that day. This convention is one place where you really can learn that you can touch and it won’t rub off.
This year the Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Alex Sabo, who will discuss Mapping the Brain.
Frank LaFrazia from the NAMI Berkshire County Board of Directors, will perform a one act play that is a true story of living with a mother who has a bi-polar condition called: Living with It
There are a variety of workshops available to choose from which will be very helpful.
The morning workshops are:
1. Work works: Employment as a Critical Component of Recovery
2. (CIT) Crisis Intervention Team
3. Nuts and Bolts of NAMI
4. Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative: New Home & Community-based Services for children and youth on MassHealth
5. Ask the Doctor: Children/Adolescents
6. Your Voice Matters: Political Advocacy 101
7. Community Based Flexible Supports: Recent Changes in DMH Adult Services
The afternoon workshops are:
1. Jail Diversion Program
2. Special Education: A “Slice” of NAMI Child/Adolescent Programs
3. Recovery Learning Communities: Self Care, Wellness and Beyond…
5. Ask the Doctor: Adults/ Geriatrics
6. Housing Options: How to Retain Your Housing and Prevent Homelessness
6. Caring for Those Who Served: How the VA can Help?
7. Getting your Walk Team on Board: Strategies to Raise Money and Awareness
NAMI Art Marketplace and Exhibition Area will be open throughout the day where you may find some very interesting items.
You may find it difficult to choose between workshops that are being offered at the same time.
You will be able to get up-close and personal with the experts from many walks of life when you participate in this convention.
You’ll see the Hollywood version of a medical condition of a Mental Illness is made for movies to sell tickets and is often far from the truth or norm when you participate in this convention.
You’ll find the folly in many myths and stigmas attributed to the medical condition of Mental Illness dispelled when you participate in this convention.
Springfield, MA on a Saturday is not that far away if you really are looking for answers.
For more info and to register: National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts 400 West Cummings Park, Suite 6650, Woburn, MA 01801 http://www.namimass.org or link from http://www.namigreaterframingham.org
Rev Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (located in MA and AZ), founder of the Family Renewal Center and past President of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Framingham. NAMI Greater Framingham has support groups for family and friends in Framingham and Uxbridge, support groups for consumers in Marlboro and Framingham , and various Education Meetings on the first Thursday evenings of the months from September through May http://www.narrowpathministries.org, http://www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org, and http://www.namigreaterframingham.org