NAMI South Mountains NC Newsletter

September 2020

We are living in uncertain, stressful times. Mental health issues are exacerbated in this climate. If you or someone you love is in need of support, please continue to read this issue. The focus of this issue is on finding the support and resources you or your loved ones need to navigate these uncharted waters. Register for a variety of upcoming free webinars. Join a support group. Enter our monthly give-a-ways, and check out some great links. There is something for everyone in this issue- even happily-ever-after dog adoptions :)

Support During the Pandemic

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Support Groups

Support Groups Continue on Zoom

This is a reminder that we are having Zoom Family Support Groups. If you would like to join a group, you are welcome. These groups are for family members who have loved ones dealing with mental illness.

We also have Connections groups for those living with mental illness. Groups are led by peers who are trained leaders.

We now have a group for veterans.

Please check our webpage at to see dates and times and to fill out a form to join a group. Our September calendar is listed below.

If you have any questions about groups, please email or

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Aunt Bertha Resources

Aunt Bertha’s network connects people seeking help with verified social care providers that serve them. Thousands of nonprofits and social care providers serve their communities. But for most people, navigating the system to get help has been difficult, time-consuming, and frustrating. Too many Americans are suffering unnecessarily.

So Aunt Bertha, we created a social care network which connects people and programs — making it easy for people to find social services in their communities, for nonprofits to coordinate their efforts, and for customers to integrate social care into the work they already do.

- from the Aunt Bertha website

Partners Behavioral Health has joined with Aunt Bertha to provide a direct link tailored to our community. You can access it here. This resource is available in 100 languages.

To read some heartwarming Aunt Bertha stories, go to .

Thanks to Elaine Cray from Aunt Bertha for speaking at our August meeting.

Free Peer- to-Peer Program Offered Online- Register Now!

NAMI Peer-to-Peer is a free, eight-session educational program for adults with mental health conditions who are looking to better understand themselves and their recovery.

Taught by trained leaders with lived experience, this program includes activities, discussions and informative videos. However, as with all NAMI programs, it does not include recommendations for treatment approaches.

What You’ll Gain

NAMI Peer-to-Peer is a safe, confidential space. The course provides an opportunity for mutual support and growth. Experience compassion and understanding from people who relate to your experiences. This is a place to learn more about recovery in an accepting environment.
NAMI Peer-to-Peer helps you:

  • Set a vision and goals for the future
  • Partner with health care providers
  • Develop confidence for making decisions
  • Practice relaxation and stress reduction tools
  • Share your story
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Enhance communication skills
  • Learn about mental health treatment options

What People Are Saying

“I am now aware that I’m not alone. I’d like to become more involved with NAMI and advocacy.”

“I’ve really learned how to cope with my triggers better, and I’m now on the path to truly loving myself.”

“NAMI Peer-to-Peer gave me hope when I was close to giving up. I realized that things can and do get better and that my mental health condition doesn’t define me. I learned how to speak up for myself, build a strong support network and make plans for my future. I felt welcome and like I was among friends. Most importantly, I felt heard and understood.”

“I’ve learned how to communicate with my parents about what’s going on with me.”

“It was really nice being with people who understood.”

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Oct 4, 2020 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Free NAMI Peer-to- Peer educational program for adults

Teachers: John Weeks and John Widener

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

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Phone Friends

Our friends at our local Mental Health America are on a mission to connect lonely people during the pandemic. You can help by being a Phone Friend. Providers can also refer people to the program. Your phone call could be a lifeline to a lonely person dealing with their mental health concerns during this stressful time. Please read below to learn more about participating in the program.

MHA’s Compeer program matches volunteers with adults in mental health recovery programs and isolated seniors (62+) at risk of worsening mental health concerns. Volunteers provide supportive friendship to offset the loneliness and social isolation that often accompanies mental illness and/or aging.

Due to the ongoing pandemic Compeer is currently recruiting “Phone Friends” to support individuals in our community from a distance via telephone communication. While we typically ask for a one-year commitment, we are temporarily seeking short-term commitments to meet the growing needs of those experiencing mental health concerns during this challenging time. All volunteer interviews and training will be conducted via telephone and/or virtual platforms for the duration of the pandemic.

Volunteers can apply online here:

Providers can refer a client by visiting our website here:

For further questions, contact the Compeer Coordinator – Stacey Costner – directly at 980-429-4037,

Meet Pixyr the Chatbot with Pyx Health

Partners Behavioral Health Member Education

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NAMI Family-to-Family is a free, 8-session educational program for family, significant others and friends of people with mental health conditions. It is a designated evidenced-based program. This means that research shows that the program significantly improves the coping and problem-solving abilities of the people closest to a person with a mental health condition.

NAMI Family-to-Family is taught by NAMI-trained family members who have been there, and includes presentations, discussions and interactive exercises.

What You’ll Gain

NAMI Family-to-Family not only provides information and strategies for taking care of the person you love, but you'll also find out that you're not alone. Recovery is a journey, and there is hope.

The group setting of NAMI Family-to-Family provides mutual support and shared positive impact—experience compassion and reinforcement from people who understand your situation. Sharing your own experience may help others in your class. In the program, you'll learn about:

  • How to solve problems and communicate effectively
  • Taking care of yourself and managing your stress
  • Supporting your loved one with compassion
  • Finding and using local supports and services
  • Up-to-date information on mental health conditions and how they affect the brain
  • How to handle a crisis
  • Current treatments and therapies
  • The impact of mental health conditions on the entire family

What People Are Saying

"The course gave me hope that it will be okay, that I am not alone and reduced a lot of shame, guilt and hopelessness."

"I wish I'd known about this seven years ago when the problem began. I felt safe in this class. I was able to talk about things I haven't been comfortable expressing elsewhere."

"Before I took the course, I felt alone and overwhelmed dealing with my daughter’s mental illness. By taking this course, I have met others who are going through the same things I am and have learned about many resources that I never knew existed."

"I thought my wife and I knew just about everything there is to know about the system and the illness. Boy, were we wrong. Without a doubt, this is the best support course I have had the privilege of taking part in, bar none."

If you are interested in the course, please email Nancy at or email Diane at We will let you know when the next class begins.

The Importance of Family Involvement in Psychiatric Treatment

The following article was written by Kathy Day. Kathy is a resident of Folsom, California. She is a tireless mental health advocate. .She writes about patient care and caregiving. She is a blogger whose blog is a must-read for all those who are navigating the mental health system. She is the founder/president of the nonprofit Pro Caregiver Consultants which is found at Thank you, Kathy, for contributing this article and for your mental health advocacy.

The Importance of Family Involvement in Psychiatric Treatment

By Kathy Day, MPA

One of the biggest challenges in being a caregiver for an adult with severe and persistent psychiatric brain illness is how devalued family member (FM) input is. We are the best historians for the historical course of the illness and have a better perspective into what works and what does not work for our FM. This is especially true when our loved one experiences anosognosia (a biological symptom associated with loss of insight into one’s own illness).

Why Aren’t Families Included?

I have noticed several reasons treatment teams are hesitant to involve families in treatment plans:

· Lack of understanding of privacy laws

· Misguided desire for the patient to have self-directed care

· Fear that providers will be held to higher standards by family caregivers

· Belief that families will ‘interfere’ in care

· Lack of real communication

If we, as family caregivers, can help the treatment team understand how valuable our input is, we could all change the dynamic of treatment. There would be more communication and harmony, which ultimately translates to better care for our FM.

Benefits of Family Involvement

With family involvement, outcomes are better and patients are more likely to stay in treatment. Yet in the US, we rarely include the whole family in treatment. The one exception I have noticed is in early intervention programs. A hallmark of those programs in family involvement. Psychoeducation is big part of that, as well as multifamily groups. I wonder how much this piece of the early intervention programs contributes to their success.

Mutual Support

When family is involved and educated about the illness, our stress level decreases. We feel more empowered and in control. We learn what to do in a crisis and how to communicate with our loved one, even while they are in psychosis. If we can stay calm, our loved ones are more likely to stay calm.

We should be educated about how we can best help our loved ones. When we can help, outcomes are better. It takes the burden off the staff and the caregivers when we work as a team. The result is a better outcome for our loved ones.

Better engagement

When family is involved in treatment, we can fill in gaps that make treatment protocol difficult for our loved ones. Schizophrenia can cause disorganization and memory loss. When family can assist in medication management and reminders of medical (and other) appointments, then our loved one can focus on managing their symptoms. We can make sure the patients get to their appointments, which results in fewer missed appointments and a better use of the provider’s time. And we can ensure our FMs comply with treatment.

Less distress

When the provider is open to including the family in treatment of the patient, and it is made clear up front what that means, then we are all on the same page. Our goal is to help our loved ones reach whatever level of recovery they can. When providers and family caregivers do not communicate, our loved ones know something is wrong. They feel the distress between their family and the provider. They may not be able to articulate this distress, but they feel it. When communication is clear and consistent,and everyone is focused on the same goal, better outcomes are achieved.

Ideal Treatment Team

An ideal treatment team would consist of the patient, family, and professional treatment team (consisting of a psychiatrist and possibly a therapist and/or social worker). In the United Kingdom, this is called the Triangle of Care ( Everyone works toward the health of the patient, with the only goal being to help that patient. When the patient benefits, everyone benefits.

With the closure of long-term facilities and the short stays at so many crisis psychiatric facilities, care has fallen to the families. We are often unskilled and untrained, as well as physically and emotionally exhausted by the illness our loved one suffers. When families are overwhelmed by caregiving, we are often not at our best. Emotions can run high and we sometimes react in ways that are counterproductive to our loved ones’ progress. With a proper team in place, the burden is shared. Families have professionals to partner with and the patient has two separate types of support. When all three work together, the stress is eased, and the focus can return to the patient.

We know this works. There are many evidence-based papers and studies on the topic. Many countries use this idea. In the US, however, family involvement is rare. We are often met with suspicion and are shut out of care. Patients are encouraged to make their own decisions since they are adults. And families want that, as well, except when their loved one is in a crisis or is too impaired to make rational decisions.

Ultimately, the goal is for our family members to live independently and have as normal a life as they can. They deserve that. But there are times that they are incapable of managing their own choices and need help. This is where a Triangle of Care can be helpful. Families may not always be objective, and we do want what’s best for our ill children. An experienced professional can offer an unbiased perspective and help facilitate communication keeping families on track for the benefit of their loved ones.

Families are ill-equipped to handle major brain illnesses on their own. We need help and collaboration. We need harmony and a team to help our loved one. Without an effective team, it is almost impossible for any type of quality of life for us and for our loved ones. We are a family, with a major illness to deal with. Other illnesses include families in treatment. Why don’t we treat families dealing with brain illnesses the same as we would families of people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s?

NAMI South Mountains NC Membership Drive/Gift Card Drawing

Our NAMI will be having a membership drive from now through October 20, 2020. Anyone who joins our affiliate or renews his/her membership will be eligible to win a $50.00 gift card and a NAMI NC Swag Bag. There will be a winner chosen from all of the memberships in a random drawing. You can join on our webpage There is a "Join" link on the left side of the page. Good luck!

There is also a contact form on the webpage to fill out if you are interested in joining any of our support groups, classes, etc.

Online Shopping to Support NAMI South Mountains, NC

Are you shopping online more during the pandemic? You can choose our affiliate in the Amazon Smile program. It is easy, costs you nothing, and helps our affiliate continue to provide programs and support. Get started here...

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Suicide Prevention Month

September is Suicide Prevention Month. Our NAMI is hosting an online panel about suicide awareness. Panelists will share their stories and steps to recovery . The panel will also include therapists who share ways to help. Please join us. The link to the Zoom webinar is below.

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Sep 30, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: NAMI South Mountains, NC Suicide Prevention

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Seeking Safety Webinar Rescheduled

Seeking Safety

Seeking Safety is an evidence-based, present-focused counseling model to help people attain safety from trauma and/or substance abuse. It can be conducted in group (any size) and/or individual modality. It is an extremely safe model as it directly addresses both trauma and addiction, but without requiring clients to delve into the trauma narrative (the detailed account of disturbing trauma memories). This makes it relevant to a very broad range of clients and also makes it easy to implement. Any provider can conduct it even without training. However, there are also many options for training. It has been delivered successfully by peers as well as by professionals in all settings. The number of sessions is flexible. Participants must be 18 years and older.

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Sep 10, 2020 05:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: "Seeking Safety' Classes for participants

Teachers: Diane Krisanda, ADC &BOD President NAMI South Mountains, NC


Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar

September NAMI Meeting

The September meeting of our affiliate will be September 17 via Zoom. Our guest presenter /trainer will be Jeanne Patterson, System of Care/Community Training Coordinator from Partners Behavioral Health.

This will be Community Resiliency Model Training. The training will begin a 6 followed at 8 by a short Board of Directors meeting.

The training is free and open to the public.

The Community Resiliency Model® (CRM) provides skills for self-care and to share with your community. ... The goal of CRM® is to create trauma-informed and resiliency-focused communities that share a common understanding of the impact of trauma and chronic stress on the nervous system

In Our Own Voice

NAMI In Our Own Voice presentations change attitudes, assumptions and ideas about people with mental health conditions. These free, 40-, 60- or 90-minute presentations provide a personal perspective of mental health conditions, as leaders with lived experience talk openly about what it's like to have a mental health condition.

This presentation provides:

  • An opportunity to hear open and honest perspectives on a highly misunderstood topic
  • A chance to ask leaders questions, allowing for a deeper understanding of mental health conditions and dispelling of stereotypes and misconceptions
  • The understanding that people with mental health conditions have lives enriched by hopes, dreams and goals
  • Information on how to learn more about mental health and get involved with the mental health community

Wondering how to host a virtual "In Our Own Voice?"

NAMI South Mountains is hosting a special virtual event for all NAMI In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presenters and Affiliate leaders to learn the tips and tricks for hosting a virtual IOOV presentation. Leslie Wyatt and John Weeks, experienced NAMI South Mountains IOOV presenters, will be leading this practice presentation on October 3, 2020, at 1:00 pm. Register Here!

Upcoming Psychiatric Advance Directives (PAD) Trainings

NAMI South Mountains and Partners Behavioral Health are providing several PAD training sessions. Click on the link below to learn about psychiatric advance directives and to register for one of the sessions.

Mindfest Fundraiser Rescheduled for May 8, 2021

Our May fundraiser at POPS (Pavilion on Park Square) in Forest City, NC has been rescheduled for May 8, 2020. Mark your calendar now for a fun day of music, exhibits, speakers, and a fundraising walk on the Rails to Trails. If you know artists or exhibitors who would like to be a part of our special day, please share this info with them. Exhibitors/artists will pay a table fee of 50.00. All of the money raised will help our NAMI continue our programs and services to the community.

September Giveaway!!!

The winner of last month's smiling sun crocheted pillow was Claire Kolberg. Congratulations, Claire!

This month our featured artist is Madeline Frye Philbeck of Boiling Springs, NC. Madeline creates amazing one-of-a-kind jewelry. Check out her creations at

She is donating this beautiful pair of earrings for this month's contest. You can win them by sending an email to Put Madeline in the subject line and type your contact info in the message. It's that easy! A random winner will be chosen on October 5, 2020.

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Meet John and Jasper!

Greetings from John Widener. I am a disabled veteran, board member, and faciliator for NAMI South Mountains. Diane Krisanda, president of NAMI South Mountains, conceived the Community Inclusion project “Join the Pack: Dog Adoptions for a Better Quality of Life”. Through this project, Diane made it possible for me to be blessed with Jasper. He was adopted for me through funds allocated for this project. Diane collaborated with Burke County Friends for Animals who brought Jasper up to date on his vaccinations, neutered and chipped him. Top Dawg K-9 was recruited for training Jasper. He is a sweet, loving boy. He is curious, smart, and is mostly obedient. He is still learning to enter the house calmly. He is usually conscious and respectful of the other dogs. He does not bother the cats. He is attentive to my needs. He recognizes my pain and anxiety and tries to comfort me by sleeping close like a heating pad. He loves attention and treats. He is trusting, but still is not sure about getting in a vehicle. He is happy to go into his crate and is happy to eat there. He thinks everyone’s food is his. Therefore, he now eats in his crate. He loves playing outside with the other dogs, but he does not want to be outside by himself. He looks forward to play time and is usually the first one out. He has adjusted well to my family and gets along well with everyone. His obedience training resumes September 19th by Les Seidel. I walk him in his training collar and practice sitting and heeling. He is showing great improvement. I am incredibly grateful to Diane for orchestrating this and other adoptions for NAMI South Mountain’s Community Inclusion project.

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Meet Michael and Otis- another successful adoption!

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NAMI South Mountains NC Information

NAMI South Mountains, NC

Board of Directors:

Diane Krisanda, President

John Weeks, Vice President

Stuart Gilbert, Treasurer

Nancy Isenhour, Secretary

P.E.A.C.E. Center (Providing Education, Advocacy, Compassion, and Encouragement)

124 South Powell Street. Suite D . Forest City, NC 28043

Phone number: 828-771-6305 free 24 /7 (Google Voice)
Office number: 828-229-3338
Email address:


Facebook page: NAMI South Mountains NC

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 Veterans press 1

Text Talk to 741741 –Text with a trained counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7

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