Seeking Volunteers to Advocate for Better Crisis Services

Crisis services for individuals with mental health issues and their family members have been in need of reform for many years. Under the current system, law enforcement officers are most often the first responders to mental health crises or suicide attempts. This has often resulted in a failure to provide needed mental health services to individuals in crisis and unnecessary harm (including, in some cases, arrest and physical harm). In response to these problems, the federal government has approved 988 as the new number to call during a mental health crisis, instead of 911; 988 will be available to the community as of July 2022.

NAMI Main Line PA is looking for individuals with mental health conditions and family members who have had experience dealing with crisis services in the Philadelphia area to visit their federal or state legislators to promote the rollout of 988 and the need for funds to improve crisis services. Individuals with mental illness who offer to present their personal stories will be compensated. Family members and other supporters will participate on a volunteer basis. NAMI Main Line PA will assist participants in coordinating the meetings with their federal and state legislators beginning in early 2022.  Please contact us if you are interested in learning more.

NAMI Main Line Upcoming Virtual Support Groups

Our Havertown NAMI Family Support Group for family members who have a loved one living with mental health challenges will meet on Tuesday, December 21, at 7 p.m. via Zoom. For more information, please contact Nora at nora@huntjohnson.org.
Our Parent Peer Support Group for parents with a middle school through young adult child meets weekly on Wednesday evenings via Zoom. If you are interested in joining this support group, please email Nancy.
Our NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group for adults living with mental illness on Tuesday evenings and Friday afternoons is meeting remotely. Please contact Danielle Sulpizio at (484) 880-0660 or Ed Kane at (484) 744-0860 for more information.

Crisis Prevention and Management for the Holidays (and year round)

The purpose of holiday ritual is to connect us to family and community, and connect our present to our past and our future. Holidays provide a break in routine and a marker of time passing. They can be stressful because there is such a demand that everyone be happy, that the day be perfect and that we live up to the families in all the ads and pictures. The truth, of course is that no holiday is perfect, that it is difficult to deal with family issues when people are together for such a short period of time, and that it is hard to be happy when a family member is ill or in pain.

The following recommendations are suggestions to make the days easier and prevent crises. Happy and sad moments will come and go. Being together is enough; it doesn’t have to be perfect.

No Holiday is Perfect: Lower Your Expectations and Keep Your Hopes

Inclusion
  • If someone in the house is very ill, should you have the gathering at your house? Restaurants or friend’s houses are often helpful.
  • If your house: Who comes and when?
  • When family members do not want to speak with each other.
  • Including the memory of family members after a death.
Prevention
  • Talk ahead of time about what adjustments need to be made for an ill member; what are triggers and what is calming.
  • Do other guests or family members know about the illness?
  • Think through what rituals are really important. (Do not argue with an ill person about church or synagogue participation, sitting through a whole dinner, etc.)
  • Major announcements (I’m gay, I’m changing my religion, I’m moving to Australia) should not be made during a family dinner.
  • Keep alcohol out of the house as much as possible
  • Keep the food, presents and decorations simple. Ask others to bring food or help out.
  • Know and make clear what boundaries are.
Support
  • Have someone assigned to check in on an ill loved one if necessary.
  • Make space for alone time and private conversations.
  • In general, people whose illness has derailed their life course feel embarrassed at family gatherings. Have an all-purpose answer ready to “how are you really” (to you), and “what are you doing next year” (to an ill young person).
  • If it’s at your house, assign people to help prepare and clean up beforehand.
  • Expect moments of sadness in you and family members; don’t demand happiness.
For those who would like to have a more concrete plan in place, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan® or WRAP®, is a guided, self-designed prevention and wellness process that a person with or without mental illness can use to get well, stay well and make their life the way they want it to be.
For more information about WRAP, go to https://www.wellnessrecoveryactionplan.com/what-is-wrap/.
Additional resources that can help you cope with, prepare for or prevent a crisis are available at https://namimainlinepa.org/resources-for-coping-with-preparing-for-and-preventing-a-crisis/.
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