Free course on veterans' mental health issues

| 15 Feb 2012 | 11:27

    VERNON — The Sussex County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will be offering a veterans-oriented version of NAMI’s nationally renowned Family-to-Family course this spring in Vernon. NAMI and the VA have joined forces to develop a special module on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and a veteran who has taught the course previously at Lyons VA Hospital will be traveling to Vernon to serve as a consultant for the Sussex County class. Class participants should be family members or significant others whose loved one is a military veteran or active duty serviceman/woman experiencing ongoing mental health issues. NAMI and the VA understand that the education and support of family members is critical in helping veterans achieve recovery. In this course family members will learn about the symptoms of mental health disorders such as PTSD, the latest recommended treatments and resources, how to communicate effectively with their loved one, what to do in case of a crisis, and how to take care of their own emotional needs, as well as those of their loved one. The free course will be held on Thursday evenings at St. Francis de Sales Church, 614 County Highway 517 in Vernon, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. beginning March 1 and running for 13 sessions through May 31. Registration is open immediately, and class size is limited to 20. Anyone interested in registering for the course or in learning more about it should call Kathleen at 862-268-5846, or email In addition to educating participants about numerous types of mental health disorders and treatment options, the course will include both problem-solving and helpful methods of communication. With increased insight and empathy, family members will learn to adjust their expectations in line with the predictable stages of the illness process. They will also come to understand the stages of emotional reaction they can expect to experience as caregivers. Veterans who are themselves seeking support in dealing with PTSD and other mental health challenges are invited to participate in a peer-led support group called NAMI Connection, which meets the second and fourth Tuesday evening of the month in Sparta. For details about the support group, call Jeri at 973-214-0632 or visit