NAMI Illinois, June 2002

Affiliate Spotlight

NAMI Jackson County


Since its incorporation in 1993 NAMI Jackson County has offered the Carbondale area a channel for sharing concerns about mental illness through support, education, and advocacy.  The membership of 22 includes 12 family members, 4 professional members, and 6 consumers.  Members are able, dedicated, and innovative.

In November, one of our members will present research results at the 2002 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Orlando, FL.  With support from NARSAD, David G. King, Ph.D., of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine has been investigating an association between bipolar disorder and perceptual alternation.

A consumer member has recently graduated from Southern Illinois University with an Master's Degree in Social Work.  Another consumer edits the NAMI Jackson County newsletter, and another is employed at Southern Illinois Regional Social Services.

A family member was recognized recently by The Southern Illinoisan newspaper for her work with her church and community.  This member and her family affirmed the work of NAMI by designating NAMI Jackson County to be the recipient of family memorial funds. 

The NAMI Jackson County president serves on the Joint Advisory Council to the Illinois Office of Mental Health, the Southern Network Advisory Council, and the Community Council for the Mentally Ill.  

Members meet monthly at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Carbondale.  On alternate months, meetings are dedicated exclusively for caring and sharing of concerns among the members.

Monthly Meetings.  Alternate monthly meetings focus on education.  During the past year program topics have varied.  

The Red Flags Program
NAMI Jackson County has introduced and helped integrate The Red Flags Program into the curriculum of five southern Illinois school systems, three program areas at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, one community college, and one social services agency.  

With the support of the Office of Mental Health Network Manager, NAMI has recommended The Red Flags Program to agency staff in the Southern Network.  In addition, members plan to use it for educational purposes in various community organizations.

Members of NAMI Jackson County were introduced to The Red Flags Program at the NAMI Illinois 2001 Annual Educational Conference in October 2001 by featured speaker Penelope Frese, Ph.D.  The program was developed in Ohio for use in school grades 5 through 8 to identify children with symptoms of depression.  Included in the program materials is a video, Claire's Story, which features the developer's daughter Claire at the age of 11, when she was diagnosed with depression.  The program kit also includes booklets, lesson plans, in-service training for teacher education, and slides for teacher and parent education.  (For ordering information, call The Mental Health Association of Summit County, 800-991-1311.)

Following a  review by NAMI members and community professionals, and with enthusiastic reception from school leaders, NAMI Jackson County purchased the program kit for ongoing promotion in the community.

To date, area schools systems which have made a commitment to the program are  

Each school will determine how the program will be used.  Carbondale schools will conduct in-service training for teachers and provide materials for guidance counselors to meet individual needs.  The Marion middle school plans to use the program during its Advisement period to raise awareness of students and teachers in recognizing warning signs and to encourage students to seek help when needed.  Unity Point School will conduct a 2-part in-service training for teachers led by social workers and health education teachers to explore ideas on how the program will best be utilized.        

The Jackson Perry Union Regional Office of Education will work with NAMI to award Continuing Professional Development Units to teachers for training in The Red Flags Program.  

Southern Illinois Regional Social Services utilizes the program to work with the schools in its Teen Action Program for at-risk students.  An instructor at John A. Logan College will use the program in bachelor level psychology classes.  The Southern Illinois University College of Education will utilize the program in 3 areas:  Department of Health Education and Recreation, Department of Educational Psychology and Special Education, and School of Social Work.

Enthusiasm for The Red Flags Program is readily apparent.  The need is there; the quality of the program is recognized.  The Curriculum Director at Carbondale District 95 commented, "Your NAMI group is doing a service for this community,"  "The program sells itself," and, "The guidance counselors feel it will be beneficial to students, parents, and teachers."  At Unity Point the Curriculum Director and the social workers are "very impressed."  The health teacher there responded, "We need this desperately."  At Southern Illinois Regional Social Services the Clinical Director offered to talk to any school staff person who has questions; she described The Red Flags Program as "Just Splendid!"

NAMI Jackson County members are currently under contract with the Southern Network Office of Mental Health to provide monitoring of care given to gero-psychiatric residents in the Adapt Program at a local area nursing home.  Members shop at Christmas to present gifts for these residents.

Members work with the NAMI Illinois office and Southern Illinois Regional Social Services to be informed and to promote legislation favorable to mental health.

From the NAMI Illinois newsletter, June 2002,
by the president of NAMI Jackson County.