WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) –
There is no shame in having a mental illness. That’s the message a new local support group is sending to the families, friends and caretakers of loved ones with mental health issues.
Tim and Karen Carr started Hope for Mental Health after their daughter was diagnosed a couple of years ago with a mental illness. They were at a loss and didn’t know where to turn. They did their research and found that there was a huge lack of support groups in Texoma so they started their own in January.
The stigma and shame associated with having a mental illness can be devastating both to the person suffering with the illness and their family members, friends and caretakers. Many keep it a secret for fear of judgement and ridicule which can lead to isolation, loneliness and other issues.
The Carr’s know those feelings well. They have experienced the confusion and emotional roller coaster that often goes along with caring for a person with mental health issues, which can sometimes seem like a thankless and hopeless job. Carr says their support group is a place for families to connect and talk freely.
“When they come to the support group we want them to find a place where they can talk freely about what they have experienced and what their loved ones have experienced. They gather their strength from each other because there is a lot of shared experience no matter what the diagnosis of their loved one is.”
Carr says listening is key. The group discusses communication techniques and strategies that will allow the person with the mental illness to open up. Their advice is to listen without judgement. He says you don’t need to fix anything – just love that person and hear what they have to say. Let them know that they are safe to say whatever they are feeling or going through.
The message Carr stresses is that the person suffering from the mental illness is not to blame nor are the parents or society. It is simply an illness and the person suffering needs to seek medical help. He says there is help available…and hope for chronic mental illness.
“Hopefully people that have a mental illness or their families, when they recognize that their loved one has a mental illness, will seek help sooner rather than later.”
Family members observe their loved ones on a daily basis closer than anyone else. If you think your loved one may be suffering from mental health issues here are some of the signs to look out for – social withdrawal and isolation and changes in behavior, sleep patterns and eating – either doing it more or less.
Currently, the support group is primarily for family and friends but they hope to expand in the future and create a group for people who have a diagnosis.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the Carr’s say that we should all do our part – not just this month – but year round to get the word out and help end the stigma surrounding mental illness.
For more information about Hope For Mental Health call 940-235-7828 or visit their Facebook page
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Source: Hope For Mental Health