These free seminars are for those who love someone with a mental illness

(Southside Daily/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily/Courtesy of Pixabay)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The Human Services Department here is hosting free educational seminars throughout August for family, friends, and caregivers of people living with mental illness.

The first “Help Me Understand” class is Thursday when Michelle Sampson, an educator for the Human Services Department, will discuss a range of mental illnesses starting with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

In the classes thereafter, Sampson said she’ll cover the topics that are most likely impacting those in the community: bipolar disorder, depression, childhood anxiety and trauma, general and social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The seminars are a safe place where families affected by mental illness can get information and apply it to their lives,” Sampson said.

Sampson noted the seminars are not “clinical” but more informative with discussions like how drug or alcohol use can affect mental illness, assisting with getting treatment, resources in the community, and how to help someone navigate the system to find help as “some people just don’t know where to start.”

“We’re going to cover more foundational information to provide insight into the specific mental illness discussed that day,” she said.

Attendees can also expect to learn about how to become a better support system by taking care of themselves using resources like support groups for caregivers.

Those interested can attend as many sessions as they’d like but seating is limited and registration is required by calling 757-385-0802. 

"Help Me Understand" 2019 seminar flyer (Southside Daily/Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Department of Human Services)
“Help Me Understand” 2019 seminar flyer (Southside Daily/Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Department of Human Services)


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Lucretia Cunningham is a multimedia journalist at Southside Daily covering hyper-local stories in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Her stories focus on public safety, tourism, and city government. She is a Virginia transplant and military spouse originally from Chicago. Lucretia also served on active duty from 2006 to 2016 and started her journalism career as a broadcaster in the Virginia Air National Guard. When she’s not covering stories on the Southside, she’s covering stories with her Air National Guard unit.