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The News Tribune is offering this article free to all readers because it includes information important to public safety and health in our community.

A statewide nonprofit will offer free training for families struggling with mental health concerns.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Missouri is presenting free virtual training for Missourians who wish to start mental health support groups for their communities, according to a news release.

The statewide training, scheduled for Sept. 18-20, is open to those who are interested in starting a new support group and to those who would like to become certified to join an existing group as a co-facilitator.

Times for the training are 5:30-9:30 p.m. Sept. 18, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sept. 19 and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 20.

Visit the NAMI website, namimissouri.org/fsgtraining, for more information and to apply to attend the training. The deadline to apply is Friday.

The training is for family members of those living with a mental illness or mental health condition. By the end of the training, successful participants will be certified to facilitate a mental health support group online and in person in their home communities.

"Support groups are an important part of many family wellness plans, and we love to have those in person," said Gena Terlizzi, executive director of NAMI Missouri. "We also understand in-person meetings are not always convenient, and many people are uncomfortable attending because of health concerns. Virtual support groups can offer that same group support, and we encourage anyone who is skeptical to give it a try."

More than 800,000 Missourians experience a mental illness each year, including nearly 200,000 of which that are considered serious mental illness.

Additionally, suicides in the state have been increasing each year since 2012, to about 1,000 suicides per year, according to the Annual Status Report on Missouri's Substance Use and Mental Health.

NAMI Family Support Groups are free, peer-led support groups for family members, caregivers and loved ones of individuals living with mental illness. Participants gain insight from hearing the challenges and successes of others facing similar circumstances, and the groups are led by NAMI-trained facilitators in pairs.

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