NAMI helps families, individuals with mental illness

Jody Demo-Hodgins - Guest Columnist

Since its beginnings in 1993 when Bernie Schell and her husband Ed arranged a meeting at Marion Public Library for family members of individuals with a mental health condition, NAMI of Marion and Crawford Counties has been about support, education, and advocacy.

Bernie had been active in the Dayton area and at the national level with the NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and she and Ed knew that were are families in every community who needed the services NAMI offers. In addition to establishing regular support and education meetings, Bernie was instrumental in starting free Family-to-Family classes in the area in 1994. She and Carol Becker taught the first 12-week course, training families and caregivers in understanding various mental health conditions, treatment options, communication, and problem solving skills to help them better cope with their family situations.

NAMI Family-to-Family classes are still being offered today, with the next session on Wednesdays between Sept. 7 and Nov. 30 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Crawford-Marion ADAMH (Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services) Board, 142 S. Prospect St., Marion.

The local affiliate also provides NAMI Basics, a free six-week education program for parents and caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illnesses. The course is taught by trained instructors who are parents or caregivers of individuals who developed the symptoms of mental illness prior to the age of 13.

Across the country, thousands of trained NAMI volunteers bring peer-led programs to a wide variety of settings, from churches to schools to NAMI Affiliates. Thanks to the unique understanding of people with lived experience, these programs provide outstanding free education, skills training, and support to participants. NAMI Connection, a free recovery support group for adults living with mental illness, is offered in hundreds of communities nationwide, including the Marion/Crawford County area.

In Crawford County a Connection group currently meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month from 1:00-2:30 p.m. at the Bucyrus Public Library Community Room, 200 E. Mansfield St., Bucyrus.

In January Marion County started a free weekly peer-led depression support group called NAMI SHARE (Sharing Hope And Receiving Encouragement). It is held Tuesdays from 6-7:30 p.m. at the ADAMH Board in Marion.

For more information on any of the local NAMI educational programs or support groups, call 740-375-0796 or visit

Jody Demo-Hodgins

Guest Columnist

Jody Demo-Hodgins is executive director of the Crawford-Marion ADAMH Board. Call with her at 740-387-8531 or visit her group’s website:

Jody Demo-Hodgins is executive director of the Crawford-Marion ADAMH Board. Call with her at 740-387-8531 or visit her group’s website: