Mental health organization seeks bilingual volunteers

Parents of children that suffer from mental illness face many challenges. For parents that only speak Spanish, these challenges only become harder. NAMI Austin – the Austin affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness – an organization that provides support to these families, is looking for bilingual volunteers to help.

The group needs bilingual volunteers who can speak and read in Spanish to help teach their NAMI Basics course this summer. The course is a free, 6-week education program for parents and family caregivers of children and teens with behavioral or mental health conditions.

The course aims to help family members understand the illnesses that cause behavioral difficulties and the important role families play in the treatment of those illnesses. The program is taught by trained teachers who are also parents or family caregivers of individuals who experienced emotional or behavioral difficulties. NAMI wants to extend these services to help members of the Spanish-speaking community.

Volunteers must be a parent or primary caregiver of a child or teen who exhibited symptoms of a mental illness before age 13. Those chosen must commit to teaching at least two classes in the next two years.

The NAMI Basics course will run from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Thursday until August 18. Volunteer training will take place Saturday, July 23 from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. July 24, 2016 at the Austin State Hospital Campus. The 2-day training will cover curriculum on how to facilitate discussion in the class and be engaging.

“Six weeks is such a short time but the connections they make are phenomenal,” said Jessica Miller, programming director of NAMI Austin. “Their situations are difficult and challenging but the program leaves them with a sense of empowerment and knowledge of where to turn if they need help.”

NAMI Austin, founded in 1984, aims to improve the lives of people affected by mental illness by providing support, education, and advocacy throughout Austin to individuals and families affected by mental illness. While NAMI Basics is a course specifically for parents with children that have mental illness, the organization also offers programs for adults.

For more information, visit www.namiaustin.org or call 512-374-1335.