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Group for Parents of Adult Children with Mental Illness Sees Strong Response

Lakes and Hill Country Family Gathering meets 6 p.m. the fourth Thursday of the month. The group is for parents of adult children with mental illness.

MARBLE FALLS — After a strong response for the first meeting, organizers of the support group for families and caretakers of adult children with mental illness will be holding regular meetings 6 p.m. the fourth Thursday of the month at First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls.

The group, Lakes and Hill Country Family Support Gathering, will host Dr. Mark Janes, the medical director at Bluebonnet Trails Community Services, during the Feb. 23 meeting. As a board-certified psychiatrist, Janes will be able to answer family members’ questions regarding mental illness

Parents of adult children with mental illness often travel a lonely road. Leo De La Garza and other parents started the group as an effort to build a support network as well as learn from each other. While many parents enjoy seeing their children grow up and carve out a life on their own, it’s not the same if their adult child suffers from a mental illness.

“Again, this is a family initiative to educate and develop a better understanding of mental illness and how to promote recovery for our loved ones,” De La Garza said. “It can be difficult to navigate systems to seek help, so this group will help pave the way.”

As the Bluebonnet Trails Community Service medical director, Janes oversees the program’s medical staff and is part of the executive management team. He can offer direction on many of the services available to parents and caregivers of those with mental illness.

De La Garza pointed out that many parents of children with mental illness, both juveniles and adults, often don’t know where to turn for help. Adding to the feeling of helplessness is that mentally ill adults can’t be forced to take medication. Society’s view of the mentally ill often compounds the problem.

These parents face challenges others just don’t understand.

Sometimes, a mental illness doesn’t even exhibit itself until a person reaches their late teens or early adulthood — or even later in life.

Somebody, however, must care for that person no matter what their age.

“As parents, we want to take charge and have all the answers, but with confronting mental illness, it can be difficult,” De La Garza said. “A plan of action with a supportive group can work wonders.”

First United Methodist Church is located at 1101 Bluebonnet Drive. Call De La Garza at (512) 656-3914 for more information.

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