Sara Swanson

St. Joes to offer classes to help those living with mental illness

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Kathy Walz. Photo courtesy of the Saint Joseph Mercy Chelsea.

In 2015, a massive survey of Manchester residents revealed that 40% of Manchester-area residents suffered from poor mental health, a greater percentage than either neighboring communities or Washtenaw County as a whole. One of the results of the survey was St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea hiring a behavioral health navigator, Kathy Walz, who comes to Manchester once a week to meet with residents for free, to help them develop a mental health treatment plan of action.

This fall, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea will be offering two free classes one to help those living with mental illness and the other to help those who care about those living with mental illness. The class run concurrently. Both are free, 12-week programs that begin on September 14th and run from 6pm to 8pm every Thursday in St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea conference room, located at 775 S. Main St, Chelsea.

The first is a peer-to-peer mentoring program for mental illness. The educational course will provide participants with a supportive, safe and confidential environment to meet with and learn from trained National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) peer mentors who also live with mental illness. This course will help participants:

  • Understand mental illness
  • Discover new coping strategies
  • Reduce stigma
  • Gain knowledge to help empower
  • Connect with others who share a similar experience
  • Find volunteer and advocacy opportunities

The second class is a family-to-family educational program for families, friends and caregivers of individuals diagnosed with a mental illness such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Family-to-Family consists of a series of 12 weekly classes structured to help people understand and support individuals with serious mental illness while maintaining their own wellbeing.  This course teaches the basics about serious brain disorders and treatments, helps connect people to community resources and teaches important skills and coping techniques for their difficult journey.  A team of trained National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) family member volunteers who understand what it is like to have a loved one struggle with a chronic psychiatric condition will teach the class.

 Registration is required. To register for either class, or if you would like to schedule an appointment to meet with her in Manchester, please call Kathy Walz at 734-680-5312.

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