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SAFE Mental Health Program to Begin in March
SAFE Mental Health Program to Begin in March

The SAFE (Support and Family Education) Program, sponsored by the Children’s Center and the Obici Healthcare Foundation, is an eight-week educational and support group program developed for families and others who care about someone living with mental illness. The series will run on Tuesday evenings from  March 3 through April 28.


The program is free of charge and participant workbooks as well as other resources will be provided.


The program will begin with “movie night” on March 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Workforce Development Center in Franklin. After that, the group will meet on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Texie Camp Marks Children’s Center, 700 Campbell Avenue, in Franklin.


The modules will include:


  • What causes mental illness and a look at stigma
  • The impact of mental illness on the family
  • Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and PTSD
  • Communication tips for family members and limit setting
  • Problem solving skills, minimizing stress, and minimizing crisis
  • Do’s and don’ts in helping your family member – creating an advance emergency plan
  • The role of stress in relapse, early warning signs for relapse and relapse prevention
  • Creating your own support group in your community and resources to help
  • A graduation dinner with a special guest speaker


The program will be facilitated by April McMullen-Knight. April has a BA in Political Science with a Psychology minor; Graduate level course work in Guidance, Counseling and Psychology.


She is a QMHP (Qualified Mental Health Professional) who worked with the Seriously Mentally Ill for 17 years. During that time she served as a Case Manager II; Emergency Services Pre-screener; Consumer and Family Affairs Manager and  Director of Rehabilitation for the Seriously Mentally Ill.


She also served on the Board of NAMI Virginia and partnered with Carol Evans of NAMI – Western Tidewater, to present the MESA program (Mutual Education, Support and Advocacy) to families in the Western Tidewater Region. She co-founded the 'Law Enforcement and Mental Health Consortium' and provided training to law enforcement agencies in Virginia.


Later she was the Executive Director and a founding member of The Western Tidewater Free Clinic and advocated for a mental health component to be included in the services available at the free clinic. April also has experience with serious mental illness in her own family.


“After movie night, each segment will be broken down into a 45 minute learning session and 45 minutes of group support time,” McMullen-Knight said.


Dr. Michelle D. Sherman, Ph.D. is the creator/author of The SAFE program.


Pre-registration is available now by e-mailing April at or by calling her at the Children's Center at 757-562-6806.

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