LOGAN – The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) in Utah is rolling out free online support groups and mental health seminars to anyone in Utah dealing with mental illness. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The pandemic and Stay Safe, Stay Home directive from Gov. Gary Herbert has raised awareness of those with mental health issues due to the staying at home.
“Now more than ever the services are needed,” said Robin Holcomb, Programs Director for NAMI-Utah in Salt Lake City.
Logan has a NAMI office run by volunteers and a steering committee with Co-directors Terry Boharsik, who works at Utah State University, and Nick Cornwell, a retired schoolteacher. The Logan NAMI office is located at 90 East 200 North in Logan on the north side of Bear River Mental Health.
“COVID-19 has caused our numbers to increase,” Boharsik said. “We are helping people with about any kind of mental illness.”
He said they generally have classes to help anyone form 13 years-old and up dealing with a variety of behavior issues. Due to the pandemic, all the classes were canceled. However, the organization has come up with an online program so people can still get help.
The organization made online 90-minute mental health education workshops each Thursday in May at 7 p.m. from the NAMI office in Salt Lake City. These presentations provide information on signs, symptoms, treatments, and resources. The presenters, NAMI Family-to-Family teachers, share their stories of having a family member with a mental health condition, giving hope to those who may be struggling with a loved one.
“We are excited to be offering online support groups and mental health education seminars online,” said Robert Wesemann, Executive Director of NAMI Utah. “We know there is tremendous need, especially in light of new stressors related to COVID-19.”
He said the response from participants in pilot online support groups is very promising.
“We’re learning that people are truly able to find a safe space to share and gain support from one another. It’s a different format, but very effective.”
Sherrie Llewelyn, a state trainer of support group facilitators, said the positive response of NAMI Utah’s pilot online support groups brings tears to her eyes.
“This quarantine feels so isolating and lonely for people who don’t regularly struggle with mental illness,” she said. “Being able to offer this to the community is truly remarkable.”
“I can’t stress enough how excited I am to continue on this endeavor especially after the turnout and success of the first one,” NAMI Utah Board President Owen Ashton said. “I was pleased when I participated in the Connection support group earlier in April.”
Ashton was able to connect, but it was just different because it was through video conferencing.
NAMI Utah assures confidentiality, and technological problems have been minimal. Participants must register ahead of time and will receive a weekly confidential log-in invitation, which allows them to join the online meeting.
In May, family members of loved ones with mental health conditions can attend online family support groups every Tuesday at 7 p.m. Adults with mental health conditions are invited to attend Connection support groups every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.
To register for support groups, visit https://form.jotform.com/200846724854158. The classes are offered online in both English and Spanish.