220 at the Henry County mental health meeting | Local



ANNOWAN – An overflowing crowd of 220 social workers, therapists, educators, nurses and law enforcement personnel gathered Thursday at the Annawan Inn Conference Center to learn how to help alleviate mental illness in their communities and schools .

was absolutely shocked by Henry County's response, "said Beth Smith of Cambridge, president of the Henry County Mental Health Alliance, sponsor of this first all-county event throughout the day.

" It shows what our alliance of community groups and citizens can do to increase awareness of mental illness and the availability of help for those who suffer. "

One in four Americans has personal experience with mental illness, according to lecturer Patricia Doyle, specialist in mental health crisis interventions.

However, only in recent years people have begun to discover the secrets of their fight against mental illness.

"We are breaking the stigma," Gail said. of Kewanee, executive director retired from Henry's Health Department and Alliance officer. "People are starting to talk about to mental health and its diseases. "

Several of the speakers and leaders of small group discussions shared personal experiences about the loss of family members by suicide.

Rev. Cheri Magrini, pastor at the Chicago Temple Methodist Church in Chicago's Loop, delivered the keynote address.

"It is very important to share our experiences," said Magrini, who has several advanced degrees related to mental health.

Magrini highlighted the pivotal role of support groups, especially for small cities and rural areas such as Henry County, where professional services are inadequate.

"Sharing helps others not to feel so alone with their problems".

Henry County Mental Health Alliance offers "Mental Health Friends and Friends" and "Peer Mental Health" support groups. Both groups meet on May 15 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Black Hawk College Community Education Center at 404 E. 3rd St. in Kewanee.

For more information about these groups, as well as about a Suicide Survivor Support Group, contact the Henry County Health Department at 309-852-0197.

Counseling to treat schizophrenia

Patricia Doyle trains police, librarians and other professionals who come in regular contact with the public about how to reduce possible mental health crisis situations.

Doyle gave a short "course" to the conference on how to relate and work with people who suffer from schizophrenia, a disease that affects one in 100 adults.

"There are 38,200 adults in Henry County," he observed, "which means there are 380 people with schizophrenia in their county."

Doyle explained that schizophrenics do not have "divided personalities". Instead, they are out of touch with reality. The disease generates a range of behaviors, including hallucinations, delusions, disordered thoughts, jumbled words without meaning and even states of being catatonic or frozen.

"These people have 'brain attacks'," explained Doyle. like others have heart attacks. "

Schizophrenics often neglect personal hygiene and dress eccentrically, such as wearing layers of heavy clothing in summer.

Doyle gave his attentive audience many tips to try to relate to schizophrenics who might be in On the verge of violent behavior, key tips include calmness, alertness, kindness, patience, avoidance of sudden movements and many more.

Doyle's presentation was one of many during the conference, and there was also a very valuable network of contacts during the breaks between the participants.

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