Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Ella Smolenski: Help available in Valley for caregivers of mentally ill

To the editor:

We were very proud when Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz issued a proclamation marking Mental Illness Awareness Week this month.

It was heartwarming to hear remarks by city councilors who really understood the importance of creating awareness, education and eliminating stigma.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Western Massachusetts, located in Agawam, is providing a free family course for caregivers of individuals with severe mental illness that discusses the clinical treatment of these illnesses and helps family members cope more effectively. The class is fully enrolled and we are developing a waiting list for the next course.

This course, created by clinical psychologist Joyce Burland, is available in 50 states and has graduated some 300,000 people. There are 17 courses taking place right now in Massachusetts.

We are grateful to Cooley Dickinson Hospital for providing a teaching space and a weekly support group for families, led by Bruce Bradley-Gilbert. We are thankful also to City Councilor Jesse Adams, Sheriff Robert Garvey, medical staff, therapists and everyone who helped get the word out about the course. NCTV has televised educational materials to help eliminate stigma and has posted the course.

Please see the Gazette’s health section for support group listings and visit www.nami.org. We believe that where there is help, there is hope.

Ella Smolenski

Florence

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