HUDSON — Around 13 percent of children between the ages of 8 and 15 have experienced a mental disorder is just one year, local experts say.
Starting Sept. 3, NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Alliance, is holding a free six-week course on the care of mentally ill children and pre-teens for parents, guardians and caregivers.
Georgianna Valle, a NAMI volunteer and co-teacher of the course, explains that the course shows parents and guardians how to support and care for a child with special needs.
“It’s not a class that teaches you how to discipline your children, it’s a class that teaches you how to love your children with special needs,” Valle said. “We teach parents and caregivers how to talk to these kids and what to expect.”
NAMI is a nationwide organization that provides services, support and treatment for people of all ages living with a mental illness.
Mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome can affect people of all ages, and they aren’t always noticeable at first glance. When a child is diagnosed with a mental illness, it has a significant effect on the parents as well.
The class focuses on the care of children from ages 13 and younger who have a variety of mental illnesses, including Asperger syndrome, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, major depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Caregivers learn to understand adolescent mental illness and how to communicate and support young people through obstacles that the illness can cause.
Each class will focus on a different topic, including medication options and the effects an illness can have on the brain.
The class will also cover the proper way to approach situations including social security, schooling and the juvenile justice system.
The class includes discussions, interactive exercises and guest speakers.
The sessions, which begin Wednesday, Sept. 3, will be offered from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the annex by the cafeteria at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, 14000 Fivay Road The free course then continues every Wednesday through Oct. 8.
To register for the course, contact NAMI Pasco at (727) 992-9653 or Valle at (727) 277-8049. The class can hold a maximum of 15 attendants, and six seats are already filled.