To support families experiencing mental health challenges, St. Thomas gratefully hosted speakers from the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on May 7th. Rebecca K. and Nyika R. addressed the importance of awareness and action in several areas:
- Know the warning signs. An example is a notable change in how a student handles schoolwork, whether by starting to slide academically or striving for perfection.
- Reach out and respond. Don’t hesitate to do this, and don’t be afraid to ask if a young person is thinking of suicide. Talk with the person calmly, persistently, and attentively. Avoid comments that would trivialize or make light of the person’s pain.
- Work with the school. Schools have resources available and contacts in the local community for more assistance. Compare your observations with those of the teachers. Advocate for the student and work with the school on accommodations. Keep contact information up to date.
- Use and provide resources. Many are available at the NAMI websites. Promote resilience and well-being. Have an organized way to carry information and your family’s paperwork around.
Call or text 988 for a mental-health crisis situation. This is a new nationwide number for emergencies related to mental health. If calling 911 instead, ask for a first responder from the specially trained Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).
NAMI has many resources available on their websites:
- NAMI’s national-level website
- NAMI Northern Virginia. This site also includes a calendar of local events and information about local and virtual support groups.
We will host a second discussion for parents on Sunday, June 4th at 4:00 in Hudson Hall. The speakers will be two counselors from Across Counseling, a Vienna-based practice. You are welcome to attend even if you missed the NAMI presentation.
Our clergy remain available to provide support and pastoral care. If there are other ways the parish can be supportive, please don’t hesitate to offer suggestions.