Workshop to explain mental illnesses

FAIRMONT – ADHD, PTSD, OCD … These alphabet soup jargons get tossed around a lot when dealing with mental illnesses or disabilities. But what do they actually mean?

A free workshop from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn in Fairmont aims to help more people understand these diagnoses.

The workshop is being sponsored by the Community Transition Interagency Committee, with a grant from the Disability Employment Initiative.

“The committee is represented by educators, local providers for people with disabilities and advocates and families,” said Beth Haskins of COR in Sherburn.

The goal of the group is to assist students with disabilities (ages 14-22) transition from school to the adult world, be it college or a job.

“Not only do we need to prepare these students for when they go out into the real world, we also need to educate the general public on how to receive them,” said Becky Johnson, a special education teacher at Martin County West.

Speakers for the event include Jeanne Reed, a senior rehabilitation counselor from New Ulm.

“It will be a brief overview of the common mental illnesses,” Haskins said. “We’ll be talking about the symptoms, strategies and accommodations. We hope this will give some insight and understanding beyond the diagnosis.”

So far, about 50 people have registered for the event, but anyone interested is welcome.

“There are so many dual diagnoses,” Haskins said. “There have been better diagnoses and more research in recent years. The spectrums are being expanded, because so many things are interconnected.”

“The impact that some mental illnesses are having on education are important, because they are a factor on whether this student is succeeding or not succeeding, and that will be a factor in school, their lives and their work,” Johnson said.

“And with funding getting cut everywhere you look, it affects everyone’s kids, and ultimately our future,” Haskins said.