When a diagnosis of a mental illness is received by a person, it not only affects the individual but family members, caregivers and friends as well. Family members want to provide support but don’t always know how. Family members also feel the shame of stigma associated with mental illness. Family initiatives are in place to assist families to understand that their situation is not unique and they do not have to suffer in silence. Through education and support, family members can learn how to understand the illness they are coping with and deal with stigma and their own feelings and emotions so they can provide effective support to their family member with a mental illness. The following family programs can assist:
Two 12-week NAMI Family to Family Education Programs were offered – one in January and one in September. This program was developed for the families of persons with a mental illness by the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and is presented by certified instructors who are also family members.
The curriculum focuses on the symptoms and treatment of mental illness. It also provides knowledge and skills to assist family members to cope more effectively during recovery and rehabilitation. There is no cost to the individuals participating in the program.
Forty-five family members graduated from the NAMI Family Education Program in 2014-15.
Family Group Support
Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month from 7:00 – 9:30 P.M. to offer support to family members and caregivers of individuals living with mental illness.
Twelve monthly support meetings were held with an average of 20 persons in attendance.
Individual support is available by appointment. 85 individual sessions were provided in 2014 as well as 287 telephone calls.