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Families cope with difficulties of mental health issues

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CINCINNATI - Dealing with an adult family member who suffers from mental illness is something many families across the Tri-State deal with on a daily basis.

That was the longstanding reality for members of the Ramundo family, who learned their relative,  Roger Ramundo, was killed in an officer-involved shooting at a bar in Clifton on Wednesday .

Ramundo suffered from bipolar and generalized anxiety disorders. Police said he was off his medication when he walked out of his family's Thrall Street home at approximately 1:30 p.m. and made his way to Arlin's Bar on Ludlow Avenue.

Police described his condition as "violent and combative" prior to the physical altercation that resulted in his death.

As law enforcement officials continue to investigate what happened on Wednesday, 9 On Your Side reporter Natasha Williams spoke with a family that has dealt with the struggles and challenges of mental illness for more than a decade.

Mark Miller talked to Williams about his family's struggle to cope with the realities of taking care of and being there for a child with schizophrenia.

"They are constantly challenging you every day to rise physically and emotionally to the occasion and it's very difficult," he told Williams.

Miller said he and his wife noticed their child was dealing with mental health issues when they were a teenager. They say their child's illness has only become worse and more difficult to deal with over the years.

"If you take all the other challenges that we as a family have had to deal with, they would pale in comparison to the issues of mental illness," he said.

Miller said one of the most frustrating aspects of battling mental illness is that the afflicted person has to be a in a "near psychotic state" before action is taken to help them.

Cincinnati police say they've had more than 3,500 mental health runs so far in 2013, up more than 100 during the same period in 2012.

Director of Social Work at University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Janie Mynatt said the growing number of people affected by mental health issues in the Tri-State led to changes in the way mental health professionals work with local law enforcement groups.

Mynatt also serves as an educator and member of the Mobile Mental Health Crisis Team, which works alongside police officers in mental health situations. She said combining the skills her team posses with those of police officers makes for a better situation and hopefully better comes.

"Police have unique skills (members of the Mobile Mental Health Crisis Team) don't have and as Master's-prepared social workers we have skills they may not have," she said.

For Miller, the daily struggle for balance can take its toll. But he said he has advice for those currently going through what he has endured for years:

"There are agencies to help out but you have to be a staunch advocate," he said. "It takes lots of energy to support a loved one."

One agency that's equipped with the resources needed to help battle mental health issues is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI . NAMI offers several free education, support and advocacy programs such as:

  • Family-to-Family: A 12-week course for families and friends of adults with serious mental illness.
  • Basics: A six-session program for parents and caregivers of children with severe mental or emotional disorders.
  • Peer-to-Peer: A 10-week course focused on sustaining recovery for any person with serious mental illness who is interested in establishing and maintaining wellness.

You can find more information at the following link: www.namihc.org .

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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