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Classes Help Utah Parents Deal with Children's Mental-Health Issues

Marcy Baliel is a Utah parent raising a child with mental health issues. Through a six-week class and an ongoing support group, she teaches other parents how to deal with these situations. (NAMI Utah)
Marcy Baliel is a Utah parent raising a child with mental health issues. Through a six-week class and an ongoing support group, she teaches other parents how to deal with these situations. (NAMI Utah)
July 17, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY - There are few challenges more daunting for parents than dealing with a child's mental illness. A new program can provide Utah families with the support they need to find help for their child and deal with their special needs.

The Utah Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health offers a six-week online course called "Basics," taught by parents with experience raising children with mental-health issues. Marcy Baliel, a certified instructor with the chapter, says the course helps families navigate the health-care system to get children the care they need.

"We teach parents how to advocate for their child, and even how to talk to medical professionals," says Baliel, "how to communicate so that you can find treatment that's actually going to be effective."

The free course also teaches parents to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness, treatment options, crisis prevention, self-care, communication strategies, and how to advocate for their child. All NAMI programs are currently conducted online due to the pandemic.

Baliel is also a certified NAMI facilitator and co-host of its first online family support group. She says they educate group members about some common mental-health conditions kids are diagnosed with and how to deal with them on a day-to-day basis.

And they work to alleviate the guilt many parents feel.

"A lot of parents who have a child or teen with a mental-health condition are used to getting blamed for their child's behavior problems," says Baliel. "I've often been referred to parenting classes and stuff, but it's no one's fault. It's a biological condition; it can have environmental factors."

The Basics classes are six-weeks long, and the virtual support group meets every Tuesday. Again, there is no cost. To register, look online at 'namiut.org,' or call the Mentor Help Line at 801-323-9900.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - UT