It is only when we experience mental illness in the family that we learn how little we understand about it and how little we know about where to turn for help. The question is even more complicated when a loved one is also engaged in substance abuse.
Family members with doctorates, law degrees or with no degrees have the same question: Where can I turn for help? What are the tell-tale signs of mental illness? To demystify confusion about mental illness, how one can access treatment services or how it may be complicated by substance abuse.
The African American Family Outreach Project is hosting its first meeting of 2020 on Saturday, Feb. 1. The meeting will provide an excellent opportunity to ask questions of Dr. Aaron Chapman, Medical Director of Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services and its lead psychiatrist. As Medical Director, Dr. Chapman supervises the psychiatrists in the county’s clinics, the county pharmacists and the psychiatrists stationed at Santa Rita County Jail Mental Health Unit.
Information about mental illness and the services available can provide a lifeline to family members seeking help. Learning how to navigate the System of Care in Alameda County, about available medications and about available services for families, can be invaluable. This Saturday’s program will also include a session with Ryan Gardner, Chief Clinical Officer of Bonita House’s service for people diagnosed with both mental illness and substance abuse, Katy Polony, a family outreach worker with expertise in accessing services, and Bettye Foster, Interim Director of the Family Education and Resource Center, who will talk about the importance of self-care.
The event will be held at The Charles Porter Golden Gate Recreation Center from 9:30-2:30 at 1075 62nd Street, off San Pablo Ave. in Oakland. The program is free but, so that planners prepare adequately, participants must register by calling The Mental Health Association of Alameda County at 510-697-8533. A free Lunch will be provided for all who register.