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NAMI to offer suicide prevention, metal health awareness training

Albany Herald - 3/7/2018

March 06--ALBANY -- With the growing number of teen suicides, shootings and threats on campus, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) is developing a new series of workshops and training sessions relating to mental health and youths at risk.

Jere Brands, treasurer and program director for the Albany NAMI affiliate, said she believes that associating mass shootings to mental illness is doing a great disservice to all of the Americans who have a mental illness that they are coping with in a positive way and who have never shot or injured anyone.

Citing a recent article that ran in the Georgia Health Consumer Network in response to the recent south Florida school shootings, Brands said she believes the key is in prevention.

The article, written by Dr. Pierluigi Mancini, president-elect for the Georgia Behavioral Health Planning and Advisory Council, states: "Continuing to associate mental illness with horrific events only feeds the hysteria and the stigma and keeps people from accessing mental health services when they need help."

Brands said, "This one struck me because of the emphasis on what needs to be done for our young people."

Brands said there are several reasons prevention, community awareness, training and open discussions about suicide and mental health matter.

"The earlier, the better; early identification and intervention provide better outcomes," she said.

Brands cited some statistics:

-- 1 in 5 kids experiences a mental health condition;

-- Only 20 percent of them actually get help;

-- About 50 percent of students ages 14 and over with a mental health condition will drop out of school;

=- Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for 15-24-year-olds.

Brands said workshops and training sessions are available in Albany to help educate parents, young people and those who work with area youths to become more aware of mental health issues and how they affect the lives of young people and their families.

Programs currently offered through NAMI in the Albany area include:

-- Youth in Crisis is a three- day training for adults who may encounter youths in any kind of crisis. This workshop is a partnership with local behavioral health professionals and the Albany Police Department (for information contact Lt. E. Duron Thompson, This program is free of charge to participants.

-- NAMI Basics, is a 15-hour education program (offered in six weekly sessions). It is designed for parents or caregivers of children or youths showing symptoms of mental illness or behavior disorders. The program is free of charge to participants.

-- Parents and Teachers as Allies is an in-service program for school staff. It includes facts about mental illness in school-aged youths. Topics include recognizable symptoms and suicide prevention. Trained presenters include a young person in recovery who has had a mental illness while in school and a parent. Both share from their own life experience. There is no cost to participants.

-- Ending the Silence is a presentation to high school students presented by young people in recovery for mental illness and those young people's parents. This program also includes warning signs and suicide prevention.

"Last May we held a stakeholders' conference for those working with youths, and we are preparing for another conference this May," Brands said on Tuesday. "Our last conference was attended by about 70 people. Out of that event these workshops and training sessions were developed. Once we meet again in May, we will begin our schedule for presentations, which will likely take place over the summer when school is not in session, and then follow up with the presentations for students next school year."

Brands said the exact date and location of the upcoming stakeholder's conference is yet to be announced. She suggested that everyone in schools should have access to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

She also said there there are additional resources available to youths who are concerned about themselves or others. NAMI also offers a Crisis Text Line: 741741. Also recommended is, a discussion resource monitored by NAMI national.

Tosha Dean, who serves as president for the Albany NAMI affiliate, said several of the workshops were recently held in other cities and can be replicated in Albany.

For example, a Training for the Parents and Teachers as Allies, which is a 90-minute presentation for teachers and other school personnel to raise their awareness about mental illness and to help them recognize the early warning signs and the importance of early intervention, was held on Feb. 25 in Decatur. At that same time, there was a 50-minute training for those wanted to present the End the Silence program to high school and middle school students.

Dean said she hopes to offer similar training sessions closer to home in Albany. Anyone interested in helping to organize or participate in any of these programs should contact her at or call (229) 329-1444.


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