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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: Mental Health Forum Reducing Barriers For Help

Earlene McMichael, WMUK

Pamela and Curtis Robinson are determined that neither money, nor lack of information, keep people from getting mental health counseling and other support services. So they run the Emerging HOPE Family Strengthening Program, a Kalamazoo-area nonprofit serving families and individuals with limited resources and from underrepresented communities. On today's WestSouthwest, the couple talks about their group and previews their mental health forum, the ninth annual, set for Saturday, April 30 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Public Library in downtown Kalamazoo. 

In a deeply personal interview with WMUK's Earlene McMichael, Pamela Robinson, a licensed master clinical social worker, and Curtis Robinson, a certified recovery coach, say a desire to share with others how they overcame parenting and other challenges led to the creation of the Emerging HOPE Family Strengthening Program in 2002. Initially, only parenting classes were offered.

In 2013, grants allowed the Robinsons to add mental health counseling, life skills training, coaching, mentoring and online classes. They also hold a yearly mental health forum that presents a keynote speaker and workshops on issues related to mental illness and developmental disabilities.

Longer interview

Open to the general public, the mental health forum draws about 150 people, ranging from mental-health professionals and families of people with mental illness or physical disabilities to individuals with these conditions, according to Pamela Robinson.

This year’s keynote address, at the April 30th forum,  is titled "Making Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities a Priority.” There are three workshops, one geared toward parents, another addresses creating a welcoming atmosphere in the church, and a third gives tips on advocating for oneself or a family member in the mental health system.

There is a small registration fee. For more details, visit the Emerging Hope Family Strengthening Program web page.

This interview aired at 9:30 a.m. Monday, April 11 on the WestSouthwest public-affairs show, with a 3:30 p.m. rebroadcast.

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