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Education, outreach keys to NAMI backing mentally ill

Denise Hackel has been president of the St. Croix Valley affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for the past couple of years. Hackel will host “Get to Know NAMI” at her home, the Dome Ranch in the Town of Spring Lake, on three occasions this fall. (Herald photo by Bill Kirk)

SPRING LAKE—Brain disorders still carry a stigma, but society is getting better at addressing them, Denise Hackel said Friday.

The Forest Lake, Minn., transplant to Wisconsin, who’s the president of the St. Croix Valley affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), said she became involved with the organization because she has a daughter experiencing related issues (there are also two sons living in Minnesota). Her family situation now has her and the group she heads emphasizing community education and outreach to assist the mentally ill.

“Many are struggling silently in their homes,” she said, explaining they’re too embarrassed to discuss a subject which has carried a taboo in the past.

The negative perception is fading somewhat, she said, explaining medications have come a long way, different treatments have become available and there’s more awareness. However, there continue to be large segments of the population unexposed to the new thinking and NAMI members hope to reverse that.

So the affiliate covering Pierce and St. Croix counties, meeting the last Thursday of each month at 4:30 p.m. at the River Falls Public Library, plans events to realize their mission, Hackel said. The topics of these meetings, which are open to the public, include fundraising, publicity and outreach advocacy, besides the event planning. Several free events will happen in the near future.

For example, mental health education sessions will begin Thursday, Sept. 5, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Luther Memorial Church, 420 S. Fourth St., River Falls. Two components will be featured: peer education (peers are people who suffer from a disorder themselves), focusing on recovery through a combination of lecture, discussion, interactive exercises and stress-management techniques for those living with mental illness, with these two-hour sessions to be held once a week for 10 weeks; and family-to-family, providing caregivers with communication and problem-solving techniques, coping mechanisms and self-care skills needed to deal with their loved one’s mental illness as well as its impact on family, in two-hour sessions held once a week for 12 weeks.

For more check future print editions of the Herald. 

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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