Here’s your opportunity to become a trained
NAMI Family-to-Family Teacher!
Our Family-to-Family education course (F2F) is taught by family members, like you, who have already taken a F2F course!
People who care and empathize with other family members who also love someone with a mental illness…
To help guide family members through the trauma of dealing with all the complications
and let them know they are not alone!
The F2F curriculum is designed to enable co-leaders who are not mental health “professionals” to
conduct the classes. Teaching experience is not needed! However … Attendance is required for the entire training.
The FREE Weekend training for new Family-to-Family teachers in Massachusetts will be held at;
The Rolling Ridge Retreat & Conference Center in North Andover
September 7th (9:00am) through September 9th, 2012 (3:00pm)
(All meals, dorm/shared rooms and materials are free of charge!)
I know we all wish we had perfect healthy families without having a care in the world,
but in reality our families struggle everyday and our Family-to-Family Education Program makes
the struggle a little less and the joy a little more for the participants as well as the volunteers
who teach it! We hope you will consider joining our wonderful team of F2F dedicated teachers!
Now our fine print…really not so bad;
Please contact: Karen McGravey-Gajera at NAMI Massachusetts to receive more information and/or a registration form
Call 781-938-4048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ignoring Mental Illness in Children Won’t Make It Go Away
By Danielle Zavala (Dani Z)
Too often it seems that people do not take children and adolescent mental health issues seriously. If a young person has issues with anger, hyperactivity, or depression people often brush them off as spoiled brats or in the case of teenagers that they are just having mood swings because of their changing hormones. They think that the kids will grow out of it, that it isn’t something that needs to be seriously addressed. The problem is that when a mental health issues are ignored they don’t just go away. They often become a lot worse. I know because I have felt the negative impact of stigma toward children’s mental health issues first hand.
I started experiencing psychiatric symptoms when I was about 11. I felt depressed and I would have panic attacks. By the time I was 13 things were pretty serious and I was thinking about suicide every day. I was so afraid that I would do it that I decided to reach out and ask my parents for help. It was really hard for me to talk to them about it. I don’t think they really understood or if they did they didn’t want to believe it. They thought I was just experiencing typical adolescent mood swings and that I probably had a hormone imbalance. Rather than getting me psychiatric help we went to the gynecologist to talk to them about my hormones. I was put on birth control to get everything back in check. After a few months once it was clear the birth control did not cure my depression we went to the family doctor to talk to her about it. Once again it was very hard for me to talk about the things I was going through. I didn’t know what was going on with me and I didn’t know very much about mental illness. Looking back I don’t think she was trained properly to deal with psychiatric issues, especially not in young people. She did not know what kind of things to ask me or what signs to look for. I was put on some anti-depressants that she had samples of in her office. I took them though out high school but they did not help very much.
I didn’t know that there was anything more that could be done for me. I thought that the way I felt was just how I was going to stay. While I was in high school I started self-medicating with alcohol and sex. I was able to stay on the honor roll and I worked hard to keep my behavior hidden. Inside I was feeling more and more out of control. Things progressed until I did develop a full blown sex addiction and alcoholism.
I never saw a real psychiatrist till I was 19 and I went to my first treatment for alcoholism. I feel that if there was more awareness around young people’s mental health issues somewhere along the line I could have been helped before things got so out of control. My parents, the gynecologist or the family doctor all had opportunities to intervene. I am 26 now and I am finally getting the proper psychiatric care I have needed all along and things are getting better. I am very grateful for my life and all the experiences I have been through good and bad. I am now able to use my past to help people going through the same situations. I realize that I am lucky to have made it this far though. I have put myself in a lot of bad situations and I have been hospitalized a few times for being a danger to myself. I am fortunate because not everyone makes it out alive. Now that I am getting better my goals are to live on my own and finish school. I haven’t been able to do these things in the past because of my addictions and mental illness.
Mental health issues are real and can affect people at any age. The longer they are let go untreated the worse they usually get. Children that do not get help for their mental illness can end up having problems with school, with vocation, develop addictions and get in trouble with the law once they are older. The upside to all this is that the earlier someone is able get help for their mental illness, the easier it usually is to treat. If there is a young person in your life that you suspect has a mental health issue, or if they reach out for help, please take them seriously. If someone you know is seeking metal health help for their child please do not judge them as “bad parents that don’t know how to handle their spoiled kids”. They should be commended for making sure their children are healthy in all areas of life.
I have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and bipolar. I’m also recovering from alcoholism and sex & love addiction. I like to acknowledge all of my issues because I have found it vital to my recovery to be able to accept them all and work on addressing each of them. If I try to focus on one thing, or if I am in denial about the other, then the issue I am neglecting ends up bringing me down in all areas.
I enjoy sharing my journey to support others that are going through the same things, and to raise awareness about mental health issues. Now that I am in recovery and I can use my experiences to help others, I feel that all the bad things I have been through were not in vain. I am so grateful for the progress I have made so far and I am excited to continue on my journey of recovery and advocacy.