The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Family-to-Family program offers classes that assist the families, partners or significant others of those who have a mental health illness, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, borderline personality disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or co-occurring brain and addictive disorders. Classes begin from 5:30- 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, at the American Red Cross of the V.I. headquarters (across from Sunny Isles Shopping Center) on St. Croix. Family-to-Family is a free 12-week course.
The NAMI education program consists of a series of 12 classes for the families of persons with severe and persistent brain disorders (mental illnesses) as well as those who exhibit behavior that strongly suggests such a diagnosis. The course is not appropriate for individuals who are themselves suffering from mental illnesses. The class co-teachers are family-members themselves, and the course was designed and written by an experienced, family member, mental health professional. The course balances education skill training with self-care, emotional support and empowerment. Important components of the course are:
1. Information about Schizophrenia, Major Depression, Bipolar Illness, Borderline Personality Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and co-occurring Brain Disorders and Addictive Disorders.
2. Coping skills, handling crisis and relapse.
3. Listening and communication techniques.
4. Problem solving and limit setting; rehabilitation.
5. Understanding the actual experience of people suffering from mental illness.
6. Self-care; learning how to recognize normal emotional reactions among families to chronic worry and stress.
7. Basic information about medications and their side effects.
8. Information about connecting with appropriate community services and community supports.
9. Advocacy: getting better services, fighting discrimination.
Helping Families Come Through Trauma
1. The basic focus in the course is on the family member, not the ill person.
2. Encouraging families to regain the primacy of their own lives.
3. Expressing anger and grief: the crux of self-care.
4. NAMI teaches empathy as the means of gaining acceptance of loss.
5. Because we are family members NAMI can help each other let go.
Registration is required. Classes are limited to 15 people. Call either co-teacher to register. Co-teachers are Marla Matthews at 690-5905 or email@example.com and Aminah Saleem at 626-8056 or firstname.lastname@example.org