If you live with mental illness or are close to someone who does, it can be a challenge to find support in a rural community like Payson.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says it offers free support groups and education to help people live healthy lives.

NAMI’s upcoming Journey to Mental Health four-week workshop will be a hybrid support group/class.

“What we’ve found is people come to the support group when they’re in crisis or when they really need help and when that’s over they tend to stop,” said Patty Wisner, president of NAMI Payson. “This is unfortunate because I think the people who are in crisis really need to see the folks that have made it to the other side and to get encouragement from that. That said, people have busy lives and it seems easier for them to commit to something with a definite start and end date.”

NAMI’s support groups are open ended. Connections, a support group for adults with mental health conditions, meets twice a month. The Family Support Group, for family members and close friends of adults and children with mental health conditions, meets monthly.

“We thought we’d try something with a finite timeframe much like our education classes of six, 10 and 12 weeks long,” said Wisner.

All workshops will be held from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Payson United Methodist Church, 414 N. Easy St. Light refreshments will be served.

Week one: July 16 will start with an introduction to NAMI and its role in the community.

“We’re going to start out with an introduction to NAMI and that first day the focus will be on mindfulness and how that helps everybody with their mental health,” said Wisner. “We’ll define mindfulness and guide participants through a mindfulness exercise.”

Week two: July 23 will focus on treatment for people in recovery from mental illness and how stigma affects recovery.

“Two of our group leaders will talk about how they came to accept having mental illness and give a breakdown on different treatments from psychotherapy to diet,” said Wisner, “and provide an overview of resources in our community.

Week three: July 30 will focus on hopes, dreams and success.

“Hope is different for different people,” said Wisner, “and perspectives on success. It’s really important to understand what success is for you and not be worried about other’s expectations for your success. Often that pressure can keep people from stepping outside their comfort zone.”

Week four: Aug. 6 will feature recovery stories.

“We will be telling our recovery stories,” said Wisner. “There is no cure for mental illness. Recovery is living your best possible life and learning what supports are out there and how to reach out to those supports if you’re starting to falter and get steady again.”

Each of the workshops will include education, discussion and a support group to introduce participants to the different ways they can find support, tools and encouragement to navigate mental illness and help those close to them who have mental illness.

Peer-to-peer leaders

Skyler Brice, vice president of NAMI Arizona; Emily Morton, peer-to-peer leader, NAMI Payson board member, an In Our Own Voice presenter, a Connections Recovery group facilitator and peer-to-peer trainer; Dar Harris, peer-to-peer leader, Connections facilitator and advocate.

NAMI Payson is a local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. For more information, visit https://namipayson.org/ or call 928-301-9140.

Digital Media Mgr/Staff Reporter/Photographer

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