Last summer, Rev. Kelly Brill of Avon Lake United Church of Christ officiated at funerals of five suicide victims.
“The common denominator in many of those cases was mental illness and substance abuse, which frequently go hand in hand,” Brill said.
So she decided to team with the National Alliance of Mental Illness of Greater Cleveland to offer a free, five-week class for friends and family members of people experiencing a mental illness. The classes, led by three NAMI members, will teach students about mental illness and how to be supportive to their loved one.
“This is my attempt to offer something to our local community because I’ve found in work and personal life that there is…a lack of opportunity for those with loved ones suffering from mental illness to talk to each other and feel like they’re not alone,” Brill said.
Brill is no stranger to the classes – she was once a student in a 12-week NAMI program.
“I have a brother who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about nine years ago,” Brill said. “Going to these classes helped me understand what he was going through.”
And Brill sees the chance to help others understand what their loved ones are going through as a unique opportunity for the religious community.
“One of the roles of the church is to provide a community for one another and to help each other through difficult moments in life,” she said. “This is a unique way for churches to bring a little hope into people’s lives.”
The hour-long classes will be held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. beginning Feb. 29. Registration is required by calling or emailing the church no later than Monday, Feb. 27.