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Mental health resources in Colorado Springs 

FINDING COMMUNITY

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When your child is dealing with a mental health issue, you may feel there is nowhere to turn for support or solutions.

“You think you’re the only one, and you sometimes even question your parenting or [wonder] what you’ve done wrong,” says Heather, a Colorado Springs parent who asked that her full name not be included to protect her family’s privacy.

Heather’s teenage daughter, Emma, began self-harming after her grandmother passed away. During that difficult time for the family, Heather signed up for a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Basics class, a free, six-week course for parents and family caregivers of children experiencing mental illness.

Some topics the class covers include effective communication, handling stress, advocating for your child, therapy and medication treatment, and more.

But Heather says that one of the class’s most valuable benefits was finding others who could relate to her situation and recommend places to seek care.

“There’s a great sense of relief to realize, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s somebody who understands,’” she says. “...It helps you find resources that you wouldn’t know of otherwise, and it just provides that emotional support you need when you’re experiencing this with one of your children.”

Emma eventually found help through an out-of-state residential treatment center when the family realized there was a lack of such treatment centers in Colorado that fit Emma’s needs. The program was built around dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, which teaches life skills and emotional regulation.

The family says they wish mental health treatment in Colorado Springs was more widely available for people without the ability to pay. After her stay, Emma is doing much better — she’s gained a new appreciation for her own life and is better able to navigate school-based stressors, Heather says.

Emma recommends DBT for any family experiencing a mental health crisis (many therapists around town use this type of therapy for outpatient care).

“Try to find a DBT therapist first, because that helps with a lot of things,” Emma says. “It helps figure out emotional regulation, what kind of mindsets there are. It’s all really useful for a family that’s starting to realize that there’s a situation that’s really getting heightened.”

Janet Strouss, who teaches the Basics class at NAMI, points out that the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance can also be a great place for families to find resources.

But no matter the situation, it’s key to maintain a healthy relationship with a child who may be struggling, Strouss says.

Parents should try to remember their child is “behaving this way because they have an illness,” Strouss says. “And it’s hard, the forgiveness and the comprehension — the understanding is hard to come by — but if people can do that, it’s, I think, for their loved one, one of the most important things.”

NAMI support groups

Location information for all classes is provided upon registration. Register at namicoloradosprings.org, call 719-473-8477 or email info@namicos.org.

NAMI Basics: Free, six-week education program for parents and family caregivers of children and teens who are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness or who have already been diagnosed. Offered in a group setting so you can connect with other people face-to-face, Basics is led by a trained team with lived experience.

Southeast Colorado Springs: Mondays, 6 to 8:30 p.m., beginning Jan. 27

North Colorado Springs: Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., beginning April 4

Family-to-Family: Free, evidence-based, 12-week course for family and friends of individuals with serious mental illnesses.

Southeast Colorado Springs: Thursdays, 6 to 8:30 p.m., beginning Feb. 20 

North Colorado Springs: Thursdays, 6 to 8:30 p.m., beginning March 5  

Northeast Colorado Springs: ​Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m., beginning April 8

Peer-to-Peer: Free, eight-session educational program for adults with mental illness who are looking to better understand their condition and journey toward recovery.

Southeast Colorado Springs: Thursdays, 6 to 8:30 p.m., beginning Feb. 13

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Young Adults and Teen Group*: Ages 15-25 with mood disorders.

St. Francis Medical Center, corner of Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard - Meeting Room 5: Mondays, 7 p.m.

DBSA Colorado Springs, 2132 E. Bijou St., #112: Tuesdays, 7 p.m.

*Release of Liability required for teens under 18.

Family & Friends Group:
For family members, including husbands, wives, and friends of those with mood disorders.

DBSA Colorado Springs, 2132 E. Bijou St., #112: Tuesdays, 7 p.m.


Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect some changes to NAMI's class schedule. The Family-to-Family class in North Colorado Springs has been pushed to March 5, and the Peer-to-Peer class is eight sessions long.

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