05/16/04 — Minister seeks to form local mental-health advocacy group

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Minister seeks to form local mental-health advocacy group

By Linda Luck
Published in News on May 16, 2004 9:11 AM

When a member of John Crowe's family began having mental problems, he was able to find help for his relative.

But there was nothing available to help him deal with that family member.

Then three years ago, he heard about the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and began attending its meetings. He found the group so helpful that he is starting a Wayne County chapter to provide advocacy, support and education for the mentally ill and their families.

An organizational meeting will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the conference room at the Eastern Regional Vocational Rehabilitation Center in Goldsboro. The center is on the service road off of U.S. Highway 70 Bypass in the building behind the former Wayne Community College campus.

Crowe said those attending will be asked for input on the most convenient date, time and meeting place for the organization.

"We will have special speakers, as well as a time to gather your input and enjoy refreshments," said Crowe.

He said that mental health reform and budget cuts have left many people without the resources to deal with mental illness.

Crowe praised the Eastpointe regional mental health agency and EastPointe Connection, a faith based group, and said he plans to work closely with them. But he said the local chapter of the alliance will offer other advantages. The group's two strong points are its family and peer support, he said.

Crowe, an ordained Methodist minister, hopes to get the churches involved as much as possible.

"After all," he said, "who is the first person someone with mental problems contacts? A preacher."

Crowe wants to help preachers know what steps to take when they get those calls.

He said he sent faxes to 52 churches in the area, called 240 and e-mailed several others, and the response has been encouraging.

One goal of alliance, he said, is to help people live the best they can. He explained that sometimes people do not know about the resources that will enable them to do the normal things, such as take a day off or even go on vacation.

Crowe asks anyone who wants to know more about the organizational meeting or the alliance may call him at 759-2146.