Registration underway for NAMI Family to Family session
Are you one of the millions of Americans who has a close relative with a serious mental illness? If so, you may have many question, such as: How can I get a clear diagnosis for my relative? What are the best treatments now available for my relative? What are all these medications for? How can my relative and I communicate better? What do I do if my relative has a crisis? How do I take care of myself in all of this?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has developed its Family-to-Family Education Program to answer questions such as these. NAMI of the Pee Dee will offer this course in Florence, beginning Aug. 27.
NAMI Family-to-Family is a free, 12-session education program for family, partners, and friends of adults living with mental illness. Participants learn about illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and other mental health conditions. The course is designed to help all family members better understand mental illness and support their loved one who suffers from it, while maintaining their own well being.
Family-to-Family was designed and written by mental health professionals who have direct experience caring for a relative with mental illness. The program is taught by trained teachers who also have a loved one living with mental illness. Class size is limited to facilitate group discussion – typically between 12 and 20 people attend.
“A variety of presentation modes are employed in the sessions,” said Lou Hanna, NAMI of the Pee Dee president. “There’s a mix of lecture and group discussion, with some role-playing type activities which give participants a chance to practice techniques to handle situations they may actually face.”
Materials for the course include class handouts to supplement the lectures and additional readings which students can refer to between sessions. These materials and a binder to put them in are provided free.
Family-to-Family covers the symptoms of the major mental illnesses as well as the medications commonly used to treat these illnesses and the side effects of these medications. Coping skills, handling crisis and relapse, listening and communication techniques, problem solving and limit setting are also taught.
An important aspect of the course is how to provide emotional support by understanding the actual experience of people suffering from mental illness as well as how to recognize and deal with the normal emotional reactions families have to the chronic worry and stress they face. In addition, the course covers how to connect with appropriate community services and community supports. It also stresses the importance of advocating to bring about better mental health services and fight the stigma and discrimination mentally ill persons often face.
Classes will be held Sunday, August 27, Tuesday, September 5, and Sundays, September 10 through November 12. Sunday classes will run from 2:30 to 5 p.m. and the Tuesday class will run from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. All classes will be held at Central United Methodist Church in Florence.