Free mental advocacy classes to be offered in Fallon

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Man and Woman profiles face opposite ways in couple problem jigsaw puzzle

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The National Alliance on Mental Illness is offering two complimentary and confidential, evidence-based educational programs in Fallon.

Both courses will help attendees know how to support and advocate for a loved one with mental illness while caring for oneself as well. Linda Porzig, NAMI Western Nevada education coordinator, emphasized how the classes are for family members as well as friends of individuals suffering from mental illness.

“We focus on how to advocate,” Porzig said, “and on creating a culture of support, communication and understanding.”

The first class being offered is NAMI’s Family-to-Family course, running Saturdays from July 23-Aug. 27. It will focus on aiding family members and friends of adult loved ones with mental illness. It’s taught by a team of trained NAMI family member volunteers who know what it’s like to have a loved one struggling with mental illness.

This program strives to significantly improve the coping and problem-solving abilities of the people closest to the individual living with a mental health condition.

The second class is NAMI Basics, running Saturdays from Sept. 17-Oct 8. This one is aimed at parents and caregivers, including foster parents, of children and adolescents who are facing behavioral health challenges. Topics include environmental triggers and the critical role guardians play in the treatment of their loved one.

The program is taught by NAMI trained teachers who are also the parents or family caregivers of individuals who experienced emotional or behavioral difficulties while young.

Both programs run from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with a midday break for a catered lunch.

Those interested are encouraged to register ahead of time by calling 775-440-1626.

The classes will take place in the Churchill County Administrative Building (Room 102) on 155 N. Taylor St.

Porzig expressed how the information taught takes a purely scientific approach, from laying out the resources and programs available, to optional treatments and how there’s no guilt involved at any point. Hearing from other families and peers is also incorporated., and NAMI never recommends a specific medical therapy or treatment approach.

“We’ve had really great community support,” Porzig said, “because the coalitions and people really understand how much our organization can help our communities.”

Porzig, who has been working for NAMI for eight years—assisting and teaching families—is also the state director for the NAMI Basics program.

“Basics is a class that really changed our lives as a family,” Porzig said of her own personal experience. “It let us understand what a family member was going through. I highly recommend it to families looking to better understand their loved one.”

Porzig said the upcoming educational programs are extremely valuable resources for Churchill, Lyon and Mineral Counties’ individuals living with mental illness and their families.

“We’ve never had (these classes offered) deeper into rural Nevada,” she continued. “Fallon can be an urban center for the area including Fernley, Silver Springs, Winnemucca. I never thought we’d make it out this far. Churchill County is a great location. It’s kind of a hub. People will come an hour from every direction.”

In addition, about an hour away in Dayton, Nevada, NAMI is offering their Peer-to-Peer course starting July 12 or Aug. 2. If transportation is a challenge for any of the classes, there are gas stipends available that you can receive help in getting when you register.

Peer-to-Peer is also free and confidential. It’s for adults with mental illness who are looking to better understand their condition and journey to recovery. The class includes presentations, discussions and interactive exercises in a stigma-free environment.

This course will take place at the Dayton Valley Library on 321 Old Dayton Valley Road. The course runs for 10 weeks on Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 2-4 p.m. The course starting Aug. 2 runs for two weeks on Tuesdays from 6-8 p.m, Saturday from 2-4 p.m., and the last class is on Thursday, Aug. 11, from 6-8 p.m.

Call 775-829-2819 for more information about this last course.

All NAMI classes are free to participants since they are funded by the Nevada Department of Health & Human Services.

NAMI Western Nevada is a chartered affiliate of NAMI, the largest grassroots mental health advocacy organization in the U.S. Visit or to learn more.


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