How KSF Helps
What we provide
The Karla Smith Foundation offers the following services to family members and friends of those affected by mental illness and suicide.
- Support groups for family members of those with mental illness
- Support groups for families coping with suicide grief
- Peer-to-peer coaching
- Free education materials
- Public awareness events
- Local resource directory
- Financial aid
Support Group Program
Purpose: To provide an opportunity for people living with a loved one who has a mental illness or who experienced the suicide of a family member or friend to share their thoughts and feelings and receive emotional support, understanding, and education.
KSF Support Group Philosophy
- Reading, discussion, and education based on the nine strategies found in the book “A Balanced Life” for families of anyone with a mental illness.
- 90 minute meetings monthly or bi-monthly.
- Check-in opportunities allowing participants to share their experiences and receive feedback from the group.
- Trained support group facilitators.
- Provide periodic expert panels discussing topics ranging from medication, counseling, legal, or grief.
- Individual or in-home family support sessions outside the full support group setting (Visits with Families).
- Provide financial aid for additional individual counseling as needed by a family member without insurance.
Current KSF Support Groups
- Belleville (Main St.) Mental Illness - 1st/3rd Thursday 7pm
- Belleville (Emmanuel Church) Mental Illness - 1st Tuesday 6pm
- St. Louis Mental Illness - 1st/3rd Tuesday – 7pm
- Cairo Mental Illness - 4th Thurs – 5:30pm
- Metropolis Mental Illness - 1st Tues – 7pm
- Alton Mental Illness - 2nd Thurs – 6pm
- Vienna Mental Illness
- Holland, MI Mental Illness - 1st/3rd Weds - 6:30-8pm
- Belleville Suicide Support – 2nd/4th Thurs – 7pm
- Effingham Suicide Support - 3rd Monday – 7pm
Purpose: To share the KSF story, educate audiences about the impact of mental illness and suicide, and raise awareness regarding stigma and obstacles to recovery.
All presentations include the story of our experience with Karla’s mental illness (bipolar disorder) and suicide followed by a brief overview of the programs and services KSF offers. Presentation topics are tailored to the specific audience (i.e. faith-based communities, schools, military, agencies, etc) and are available upon request.
Education Presentation Topics
- The nine strategies for A Balanced Life of coping with the mental health problems of your loved one
- Grief Emotions
- Warnings Signs of Suicide
- The Why of Suicide
- Engaging Faith-Based Communities
- Depression in the classroom
- Impact of PTSD
- Stigma Reduction
- Mental Illness Recovery
Educator Volunteer Requirements
- Knowledge of local community to create list of agencies, schools, companies, faith-based communities to engage.
- Ability to track status, follow-up contacts of organizations, and send thank-you notes.
- Identify specific faith-based community volunteer.
To schedule a KSF Presentation contact 618-624-5771 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer Mentoring Program
Purpose: To connect support group members with people less experienced with the mental illness or suicide of a loved one. This program extends and adapts the care, coping skills, and supportive relationships that occur in a support group to a more personal individual setting.
What the Peer Mentoring Team Does
- Sends yearly anniversary cards to KSF support group members who have lost a loved one to suicide.
- Contacts current and previous support group members quarterly to check-in, identify needs they have, alert them to recent KSF newsletter, promote upcoming KSF events.
- Recommend appropriate and current reading material, websites, and conferences.
- Get to know them personally: interests, hobbies, family experiences.
- Talk casually about the 9 strategies (or suicide grief emotions, as applicable), encouraging them to become familiar with the strategies and help them find ways to apply the strategies to their situation.
- Connect them to needed local resources.
Peer Mentoring Volunteer Requirements
- At least several months KSF support group experience.
- Working knowledge of the 9 strategies or suicide grief strategies.
- Oral communication skills and an empathetic personality.
- Sufficient time to make phone calls and establish relationships.
- An overview knowledge of local resources and a willingness to help someone find a resource.
To Get Started as a Peer Mentor Volunteer
- Veteran support group members willing to assume these responsibilities.
- A training program to initiate, train, and support these volunteers.
Family Connect Program
Purpose: To help families, including your loved one with the mental illness, establish supportive relationships outside of the support group forum and to help relieve families of the social isolation they can experience when supporting a person with mental illness.
What the Family Connect Team Does
- The Family Connect Coordinator works with each KSF Support Group Facilitator and Facilitator appointed support group member volunteer(s) to establish a calendar for monthly Family Connect Events.
- The Family Connect Coordinator aids the Facilitator/and or group volunteer(s) by helping to brainstorm activities and items/locations needed for each activity.
- The Family Connect Coordinator will communicate with each support group Facilitator/volunteers on a monthly basis to offer assistance and chart progress.
- The Family Connect Coordinator will market the event by providing event information to the Technology Team. If additional marketing materials are needed, the Coordinator will submit a request to the Director of Programs and Events.
- The Family Connect Coordinator will serve as the liaison between the support groups and KSF staff by completing the following: submission of Family Connect funding requests, submission of monthly report summarizing each group’s activity and participation, event survey data, and by providing regular recommendations to KSF staff about possible program enhancements.
Family Connect Team Volunteer Requirements
- Creative self-starter with good organization and coordination skills.
- Excellent communicator who can work effectively with different social /economic demographics.
- Current or former support group member who understands the “networking” strategy and can engage facilitators and volunteers with enthusiasm.
- Sufficient time to commit in both daytime and evening hours to coordinate program.
Proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel. Facebook user.
To get started as a Family Connect Team Volunteer contact Chris Hendrix at 618-624-5771 or at email@example.com
Purpose: To spread the mission of KSF around the world by raising awareness to mental illness and suicide topics through social media networks and the KSF website.
What the Technology Team Does
- Posts relevant mental illness articles on KSF Facebook page.
- Sends tweets from KSF_Hope account about upcoming meetings, events, and links to articles.
- Updates KSF website with upcoming events.
- Takes individual photos and posts video testimonials on the I Am Hope page of the KSF website.
- Creates and updates twitter accounts for each KSF support group and posts reminders and topics (KSF_Hope_Metropolis, KSF_Hope_Alton, etc).
- Respond to KSF blog posts and begin discussion forums on KSF Facebook page about mental health topics.
- Update KSF website to personalize each support group page with photos, meeting info, and group specifics.
- Create a new page on KSF website of suggested mental health/suicide grief books as suggested by support group members.
- Publishes a quarterly KSF newsletter.
Technology Team Volunteer Requirements
- Experienced everyday user of personal or business Facebook and twitter accounts.
- Ability to download, crop, resize, and post digital photos.
- Strong computer skills.
- Experience working with a SharePoint site.
- Experience making updates to a website content management system and using automated email distribution software (not required, but helpful).
To get started as a Technology Team Volunteer contact firstname.lastname@example.org and explain which areas from the list you want to be involved in. Kevin will setup time with you to review the tools, software, and explain procedures for making updates.
College Awareness Program
Purpose: To extend the mission of KSF to colleges and universities by collaborating with campus leaders in creating programs that address mental illness, suicide prevention, and suicide grief.
What the KSF College Awareness Program Does
- Facilitates sessions with student and faculty leaders to identify the requirements for an on-campus organization which provides support, education, and awareness of mental health, suicide prevention, and suicide grief issues.
- Provides complete handbook to implement on campus program using KSF approach and materials.
- Provide training for student and faculty leaders to implement the programs.
- Provide on-going support and consultation post-implementation.
- Promote campus programs through KSF social media (Facebook, twitter, and website).
- Provide assistance in an evaluation of the programs post-implementation.
- Suggest effective mental illness and suicide marketing strategies to recruit participants into campus program.
- Conduct a free presentation on campus explaining the history, mission, and vision of KSF.
College Awareness Program Partners
- SIU-Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL
- Ottawa University, Ottawa, KS
Silent Siren Program
Purpose: To build strong community collaborations that enhance and expand existing community crisis intervention/supports for military service individuals and their families.
What Silent Siren Does
- Coordinates municipality emergency services to help municipalities more effectively respond to PTSD crisis situations.
- Provides PTSD education to emergency responders.
- Prepares families and caregivers supporting a person with PTSD for crisis management through a guided preparation of an “emergency toolkit”.
- Provides resources and referrals for families and caregivers supporting a person with PTSD.
- Provides ongoing education and support to municipalities partnered with Silent Siren.
- Networks within the military community and mental health community to establish key relationships and to share helpful resources.
- Pursues all opportunities via social media/blog to engage military community and beyond.
Purpose: To expand the reach of KSF through community awareness and to increase our support base through funding opportunities.
What the Events Team Does
- Identifies & initiates opportunities for KSF to increase visibility through community related events with or independent of other organizations (i.e. walks, conferences, back to school nights, civic orgs, etc.).
- Explores and initiates fundraising opportunities for KSF including: dinner auction, privately hosted functions, giving circles, and community activities such as festivals, “dinner out” nights with local restaurants, and “proceeds back” events.
- Participates in monthly planning committee meetings.
- Sets events calendar and helps determine critical targets such as attendance and realistic profit goals.
- “Designs” the event answering “Who,” “What,” Where,” “When” and “Why”.
- Seeks underwriters and product donors.
- Markets the event through social media, word of mouth, personal relationships, volunteer recruitment, etc.
Volunteers at events in leadership capacity.
Events Volunteer Requirements
- Ability to attend monthly planning meetings and follow-through with assigned tasks.
- Willingness to solicit companies, organizations, and individuals for event support.
- Ability to lead volunteer teams at events.
- Experience in event planning, strong community relationships, design skills, marketing skills, and/or technical skills are beneficial.
- Organized individuals who collaborate well in groups.