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MN Mental-Health Conference Offers Hope, Practical Advice

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The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nationís largest grassroots mental health advocacy organization. The Minnesota chapter is 40 years old. (Chuck Taylor/Flickr)
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nationís largest grassroots mental health advocacy organization. The Minnesota chapter is 40 years old. (Chuck Taylor/Flickr)
 By Laurie Stern, Public News Service - MN, Contact
November 2, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Social workers, teachers, parents and family members from across the state will come together this weekend in a daylong effort to understand and treat mental illness.

The annual conference of Minnesota's National Alliance for Mental Illness is Saturday at the RiverCentre in St. Paul. The group's executive director, Sue Abderholden, said the conference will offer personal and political strategies for coping with these issues - which affect 1-in-4 Americans.

"We really want to make sure that we're covering mental health treatment as we would any other health care treatment,” Abderholden said. "And right now, we're not. The law is very good, but it's not being enforced."

She said NAMI is working on legislation that would make sure employers and providers cover mental illness the way they do other illness or injury.

The conference will also focus on how to help young people by making sure mental health professionals are available in more schools. Abderholden said the need is particularly great in preschools.

"We have a lot of children that are being kicked out of childcare, largely because they've experienced trauma in their lives,” she said. "This is not about a child being bad, it's really about a child who needs help. We kind of say, you know, not 'What did you do?' but 'What happened to you?'"

She added the conference is geared toward the general public as well as mental health professionals. More information is available at NAMIhelps.org.

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