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Class Information

Below are the date, time, location, and outline for this class.

How Can I Hang On? Messages of Hope and Coping When You or a Loved One Suffers From Mental Illness

Taught by Michelle Willis


Day Time Location
Saturday, August 3 2 p.m. Taylor 276
Michelle Willis

Michelle Willis


Michelle Willis graduated from Ricks College with an Associate’s Degree in Arts and Sciences. She also earned her B.A in Choral Music Education from Boise State University.

Willis worked as a music/arts member of the Herriman Arts Council for seven years. In 2008, she founded the Herriman Community Orchestra, in which she serves as conductor. She enjoys working as an educational composer for the Utah Opera, where she helps school-aged children create their own operas. Willis has conducted extensive personal research into mental illness, as she and two of her children have the disease, and she is certified as a panel member for NAMI'S "Parents and Teachers as Allies" program and "Hope for Tomorrow."

Willis met her husband, Spencer, at Ricks College in 1995. Her husband, a member of the Tabernacle Choir, also shares a passion for music. They have four children ranging in age from five to thirteen: Melody, Adam, Kira and Bethany. Willis loves to spend time in nature and listen to birds and streams. She loves animals, composing and performing music, reading, and finding reasons to laugh.

Class Outline

According to Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., 2006 president-elect of the APA, "about one-in-five Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder during any given year." This means few families are untouched by a mental illness." This class shares personal experiences, coping skills for those with mental illness and their caregivers, and hope for the future.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Everyone dealing with intense stress in their lives needs a little humor. Laughter carries us through the hard moments.
  2. What are the myths and misconceptions about people who have mental illnesses?  We will discuss what people have thought at times, but have been too embarrassed to say out loud.
  3. Being told you or someone you love has a mental illness is like losing someone in a tragic accident. We must be able to go through the grief process for our loss. We will learn what that process is and where you are at in it.
  4. With all illnesses, we need to accept the limitations that come with it and learn how to make accommodations in life. We will talk about ways to make the most out of what our health allows.
  5. What helps us all endure to the end? Knowing our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His promises gives us great cause to hope, for now and for the life beyond our mortality.
  6. Sometimes our greatest emotional peace can come from sharing our burdens with others. We will find out ways to reach out in the midst of our suffering.
  7. For the mentally ill, every day lived and endured to the best of our ability is a victory.  Find out ways to celebrate the every-day victories for yourself or for your loved one.
  8. The two most empowering principles to gain when dealing with mental illness is validation and mindfulness. We will discuss these and why they are so powerful.
  9. Why is forgiveness an important part of dealing with mental illness? Who are we forgiving?
  10. When all else fails, just love.  Learn why love can bring peace during our struggles.