NAMI Utah offers free classes for parents and adolescents dealing with mental illness

Oct 27, 2023, 6:51 PM | Updated: 7:20 pm

Kelsey (left) and Wendy Fayle (right) holding up a NAMI sign. (Courtesy: Wendy Fayle)...

Kelsey (left) and Wendy Fayle (right) holding up a NAMI sign. (Courtesy: Wendy Fayle)

(Courtesy: Wendy Fayle)

SALT LAKE CITY — When Wendy Fayles’ daughter, Kelsey, was in 7th grade, she experienced what doctors later determined was a psychotic break. Overnight, Kelsey went from the student every teacher wanted to clone to someone who had trouble with school, spent a lot of time alone, and refused to speak with family members.

“It was such a confusing time – both for us and for Kelsey. We felt so alone, and so did she,” Wendy Fayles said.

Helping a loved one manage their mental health can come with a learning curve. That’s why NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, offers a class to educate and empower parents and caregivers.

“It wasn’t until a few years later that we learned about classes that would have helped all of us so much during that time,” Wendy explained.

NAMI Basics and Progression are free courses offered by NAMI Utah.

NAMI Basics is a six-week course designed for parents and other family caregivers of children and adolescents who have either been diagnosed with a mental illness or who are experiencing symptoms but haven’t yet gotten a formal diagnosis. The course covers everything from the biology behind mental health conditions to hands-on tools for effectively communicating with your child and the various systems of care they are involved with (including the mental health system, the education system, and the juvenile justice system).

“You learn what all those confusing acronyms – like APRN, LCSW, IEP, etc. – stand for,” explained Wendy Fayles who is now a certified Basics teacher. “You learn how to set up a record-keeping system to keep track of appointments, medications, medication changes, and all that stuff that you don’t think of when you’re in the middle of a crisis but that you really, really end up needing later. And most of all, you learn that you are not the only parent who is dealing with this kind of situation.”

NAMI Utah’s Progression course is a free six-week class for teens with mental health conditions. In a safe, supportive environment, teens meet teens with mental health conditions and learn all about mental illness including causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and tips for leading a full, enriching life with a mental health condition. Progression instructors are young adults who first experienced mental illness as teens.

Kelsey Fayles spent several years as a Progression instructor. “I wish this class had been around when I first got diagnosed,” she said. “I have lost friends to mental illness and sometimes I wonder if they’d still be here if they had been able to take Progression.”

If you or someone you know is interested in registering for the NAMI Basics or Progression course, register here.

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NAMI Utah offers free classes for parents and adolescents dealing with mental illness