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Series to educate about mental illnesses

Krystle Wagner • Aug 12, 2017 at 10:00 AM

A three-part series this month in Grand Haven will give community members the chance to learn about bipolar and depression, schizophrenia, and panic and anxiety disorders.

The Summer Series: Exploring Mental Illnesses takes place on the next three Monday nights — Aug. 14, 21 and 28 — at the Momentum Center for Social Engagement, 714 Columbus Ave. Talks begin at 6 p.m.

Speakers will present and provide information for 30-45 minutes before holding a question-and-answer session. Extended Grace Executive Director Barbara Lee Van Horssen said people will have the opportunity to have their questions answered by clinical professionals.

“We want to facilitate the conversation,” she said.

On Aug. 14, Brett VanTol, a licensed psychologist for Pine Rest, will discuss bipolar and depression.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 5.7 million American adults are affected by bipolar disorder, and 16.1 million had a “major depressive episode in the past year.”

According to NIMH, bipolar is also known as a “manic-depressive illness,” and manic episode symptoms include having a lot of energy; feeling “jumpy” and “wired”; feeling “up, high or elated”; agitated; irritable; increased levels of activity; and engaging in risky behaviors.

Depressive episode symptoms include little energy, decreased activities, forgetting things, eating too little or too much, trouble sleeping, feeling down, sad, and thinking about suicide.

On Aug. 21, Michele VanderSchel, who works for Ottawa County Community Mental Health, will discuss schizophrenia.

According to NIMH, schizophrenia is a “chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves,” and symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, “difficulty beginning and sustaining activities,” and “reduced speaking.”

On Aug. 28, Dr. Greg Green, the medical director for Healthwest, will discuss panic and anxiety disorders.

According to NIMH, anxiety disorder involves feelings that are “more than temporary worry or fear,” and symptoms include irritability, restlessness, “easily fatigued” and “difficulty controlling the worry.” 

Panic disorder involves “unexpected panic attacks,” the institute says. Symptoms include “sudden and repeated attacks of intense fear,” “feelings of being out of control during a panic attack,” and “intense worries about when the next attack will happen.”

Van Horssen said she appreciates VanTol, VanderSchel and Green for volunteering to participate in the series.

Whether through similar settings or town hall meetings, Van Horssen said she would like to offer more opportunities in the future to raise awareness and provide education about mental illnesses. She said they’re trying to identify the community’s needs and bring in resources to help address them.

Anyone with questions or who would like to provide feedback about the series can contact Van Horssen by email at barbara@extendedgrace.org.

Want to go?

What: Summer Series: Exploring Mental Illnesses

Where: The Momentum Center for Social Engagement, 714 Columbus Ave., Grand Haven.

When: 6 p.m. Aug. 14, 21 and 28