The Davis County Child Abuse Prevention Council placed blue and silver pinwheels in the courtyard last week in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention month. The pinwheels are a symbol of hope and resilience with every blade representing a person’s life. The pinwheel does not work unless all blades work together. NAMI is an organization that requires people working together to promote mental health and prevent abuse.

Megan Cockriel of NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) for South Central Iowa, which serves Appanoose, Davis, Mahaska and Wapello Counties, is anxious to promote the assistance NAMI can provide to children and their families in the four-county area.

Cockriel is using Child Abuse Prevention Month as an opportunity to inform the public of the mental health services NAMI offers as well as the need for volunteers to serve the area.

“There is a shortage of mental health resources in Bloomfield, and we are looking for volunteers in the form of individuals within the community or other organizations with similar goals as ours,” she said.

Cockriel said the pandemic has brought on a whole new set of problems. “What I see the most throughout the pandemic is anxiety,” she said. “People are scared to go out and they isolate and fall into a depression. What we need now are support groups.”

NAMI offers two support groups — a Connection Support Group  and a Family Support Group.

The Connection Support Group is for individuals who are struggling. Cockriel said the groups are usually for 10 or fewer people. The groups are currently holding virtual meetings, but she hopes to get back to in-person meetings soon. There are facilitators for these groups in Appanoose and Mahaska Counties, and her goal is to also provide this service in Davis County and reach more people.

The Family Support Group program is for family members, significant others, and friends of people with mental health concerns. The program helps individuals gain insight from the challenges and successes of others facing similar experiences.

In addition to support groups, NAMI provides classes ranging from five to eight sessions.

The BASICS course is for parents, guardians, and other family caregivers who provide care for youth who are experiencing mental health symptoms. This course is presently being offered online in six sessions.

Cockriel said this course is for any and all parents. It teaches the stages of child development and where to seek help in the community if needed. This program is being offered through NEST programs now and gets parents talking to each other as they form a support system.

The Family to Family (F2F) course is eight sessions long and is for loved ones of people with mental health concerns. The course facilitates a better understanding of mental health conditions, increases coping skills and empowers participants to become advocates for their family members.

“F2F is like a family support group but in the form of a class,” Cockriel said. “It helps families learn about different diagnoses and how to deal with them.”

NAMI’s Homefront class is a six-class series geared to active duty and veteran service member families.

The course is designed to help family members support their loved one, identify services, understand current treatments, and navigate challenges.

“We’re excited to get this going,” Cockriel said. “Homefront is a state-based program and is in the process of getting facilitators trained. The course goes through different diagnoses and the side effects.”

 NAMI also offers presentation on mental health issues for the entire community.

“Ending the Silence” is a presentation designed for middle and high school students, school staff and parents or guardians. Audiences learn about the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, how to recognize the early warning signs and the importance of acknowledging those warning signs.

Such topics as suicide and eating disorders are discussed.

“This has been our most successful presentation in the classroom,” Cockriel said. “It is especially powerful when a young adult gets up and shares their story and how they overcame their mental health issues.

“We try to get people to open up and share — to break the stigma. This presentation has been amazing,” she said.

Cockriel said NAMI recently presented “Ending the Silence” in Centerville, Moravia, and Moulton-Udell  schools.

“In Our Own Voice” presentations include a personal story from the perspective of an individual living with mental illness. Cockriel told of one schizophrenic who told what it is like to hear voices while trying to interact with the public.

This presentation is for the general public and can strike a passion for community members to reach out.

The Family and Friends seminar is a 30-45-minute presentation that addresses mental health diagnoses, treatment, recovery, community strategies, crisis preparation, and NAMI resources.

“This is a general overview of the services NAMI offers,” Cockriel said. ”NAMI is the nation’s largest mental health group.

“Our main focus is just getting programs out there and looking for volunteers to help with programs,” she added.

NAMI is moving into the Optimae office in the lower level of the FSA building on South West Street in Bloomfield. Bethany Woodard, development director, will man the office. She can be reached at 641-216-3114 through phone calls or text messages.