Knowledge is power: sharing lessons learned

Posted on Jan 14, 2019 by Community

Miron employees recently had the opportunity to attend lunch and learns with two organizations that serve vulnerable populations in the community: those living with a mental illness, and children. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Fox Valley and the Sexual Assault Crisis Center (SACC) took time to share information in an effort to educate, answer questions, erase stigma, and start difficult conversations. Here are recaps of our time spent with NAMI and the SACC:

National Alliance on Mental Illness Fox Valley
Our session was entitled: Mental Illness 101 and Shared Panel Stories. Speakers included Megan Zimmerman, Community Outreach Coordinator for NAMI, and testimonial speaker Nick, who shared his story about living well in recovery with Paranoid Schizophrenia, helping to erase the stigma around mental illness, and affirming that there is hope for those living with a mental health challenge.

This presentation provided an overview of mental illness, including the categories of mental illness, their incidence, and biological basis; treatment and recovery; the adverse effects of stigma; the importance of advocacy; and NAMI Fox Valley’s role in the community to improve the quality of life of those affected by mental illness. This presentation was a practical tool to educate and increase awareness about the true nature of mental illness. Additional topics included:

  • The different ways that NAMI Fox Valley helps those affected by mental illness, through free education programs and support groups.
  • The difference between mental health and mental illness.
  • The impact of mental illness (on the economy, homelessness, imprisonment).
  • The signs/symptoms of various mental health conditions.
  • The barriers to mental health treatment, with the largest barrier being stigma.
  • The meaning of “recovery” in the mental health field, and what it means to be living well in recovery.

NAMI’s mission is to support and empower those affected by mental illness and the vision to live in a stigma-free community, and society, that supports and promotes mental health and recovery. Serving Calumet, Outagamie, Waupaca, and northern Winnebago counties, NAMI works tirelessly to raise awareness and provide essential education, advocacy, outreach, and support programs for people living with mental illness and their loved ones. Through the efforts of its dedicated staff and volunteers, NAMI offers more than two dozen different education, support, and outreach programs in our community.

Sexual Assault Crisis Center-Fox Cities
Our session was entitled: Getting Comfortable with Uncomfortable Conversations. It is undoubtedly uncomfortable to talk about sexual abuse –especially when it involves children. It is also true that by starting the conversation, we begin to protect our children.

Panelists were: Melinda Tempelis, Outagamie County District Attorney; Lieutenant Mike Frisch, Appleton Police Department; Sally Smarzinski, Therapist with Sexual Assault Crisis Center; Helen Kobussen Director of Prevention Education and Community Outreach with Sexual Assault Crisis Center; and Moderator – Amy Flanders, Executive Director, Sexual Assault Crisis Center.

The topic areas included:

  • Child sexual abuse – what is it?
    • The typical profile of an offender is someone that children know. More than 90 percent of children are abused by someone they know and trust.
  • What can parents do to start the conversation with their children?
    • Start early.
    • It’s a conversation about safety.
  • Your child discloses, now what?
    • The process of gathering information was discussed and explained by DA Tempelis and Lt. Frisch with clarification of steps taken and why.
  • Your child can heal!
    • Services offered by the SACC:
      • Therapy for children and non-offending care givers.
      • Support groups.
      • Legal and medical advocacy.

SACC transforms lives by providing crisis intervention, advocacy, and counseling at no cost for individuals and families affected by sexual trauma and exploitation. They are committed to addressing the diverse needs of our community by providing prevention education and raising awareness to create a safer Fox Valley.

If you’re interested in learning more, visit namifoxvalley.org or sacc.foxcities.org.

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