Grants allow mental health programs to expand into Muscatine

By Tegan Kraklio

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will be expanding programs into Muscatine. The local chapter, NAMI Greater Mississippi Valley, has a coverage area of Henry, Rock Island and Mercer counties in Illinois, and Clinton, Scott and Muscatine counties on the Iowa side of the river.

According to Vicki Walters, Support and Education Programs Coordinator for NAMI Greater Mississippi Valley, just because Muscatine is part of their coverage area, doesn’t mean they can always offer programs.

“Here’s an example, Mercer County,” Walters said. “We haven’t hit that area yet. We went to some of their meetings and let them know that, hey, if they get funding or money, we can come offer these programs… It’s part of our area, but we didn’t have any dollars to come down.”

Where will the dollar come from? A three-year grant has been given by the Muscatine Health Support Granting Fund through the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine. Walters says that NAMI will be able to offer Muscatine their Family-to-Family program, their Family and Friends Seminar, NAMI Basics class and their Parents and Caregivers Support Group.

“In July we started working out of the Robert Young Center in Rock Island at the access center at their adolescence unit. We are offering our family support group on that campus on a weekly basis,” said Walters, and described the group, saying it was for parents with youth showing signs and symptoms. While parents were in that group, their kids could be in another support group at the same time, just down the hall. “We’re hoping to replicate that at the 1616 Cedar location here in Muscatine.”

NAMI Greater Mississippi Valley is also partnering with the Muscatine Department of Public Health. Their goal is to promote early detection and treatment, and suicide prevention.

“We’re hoping to get NAMI in the homes before the 911 happens, or the crisis, or the suicide, right? To learn those different signs and symptoms,” said Walters. The Department of Public Health will use its referral network to bring families in need to the programs NAMI offers.

NAMI’s programs are free to participants, and NAMI is run by volunteers, so the grant money given will help pay for the overhead costs of marketing and promotions, materials, and facility rentals.

“We’re nonprofit, right?” said Walters. “Now if the funding or grant money wasn’t there to back us up, we wouldn’t be coming into Muscatine.”

Now that they have funding, Walters is also looking for volunteers, who, like her, was a family member looking for answers.

“Our programs aren’t taught by professionals or providers, they’re taught by persons that have the same-lived experience… that are well enough in their own family dilemma or dynamics that they can help us move forward and share this with other families,” said.

Scheduling is underway 2020 trainings.

Individuals interested in volunteering may contact Vicki Walters at education@namigmv.org.

A free seminar for the public will be held on Monday, Feb. 10 at the Musser Public Library, 408 East 2nd St., Muscatine, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Register online at https://bit.ly/2OoXIec or 563-386-7477 Ext. 266.