See our recent newsletter for current information about support groups and classes.
next class is scheduled for: To be announced
ABOUT THE COURSE
The "Family-to-Family Education Program" (F-to-F) is designed to help & educate family members and other caregivers of people living with mental illness. The F-to-F is a free course which meets once a week for 12 weeks. Student books are provided. There are no tests. Developed by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), managed by NAMI California & sponsored by our local NAMI Humboldt affiliate, the course material aims to empower. (Note that the course material is not designed for individuals living with mental illness or for professionals in the mental-health field.)
F-to-F offers the enrolled family members information about the major brain illnesses & medications, compassionate support, communication-skills & problem-solving training, & resource references. The team-teachers are specially trained, local, NAMI volunteers who themselves have mentally ill loved ones in their families--hence the descriptive name "Family-to-Family." The program, although offered elsewhere in America for around two decades, was first offered in Humboldt County in 2001.
Students generally emerge grateful for the feelings of understanding, empowerment & hope which the educational lessons develop, as well as for the supportive, friendly rapport which the group experience engenders.
size is limited & advance registration is required. When accepted, the student commits to seeing the course through
to the end, when certificates of achievement are awarded.
waiting list for the next opportunity to enroll is maintained. If
you're interested, contact an F-to-F teacher:
Please clearly provide your name, phone number(s), mailing address & e-address (if you have one), and explain the reason(s) for your interest in taking the course. Couples are encouraged to sign up for the F-to-F together.
Introduction: Special features of the course; learning about the normative stages of our emotional reactions to the trauma of mental illnesses; our belief system and principles; your goals for your family member with mental illness; understanding illness symptoms as a "double-edged sword."
Schizophrenia, Major Depression, Mania, Schizoaffective Disorder: Diagnostic criteria; characteristic features of psychotic illnesses; questions and answers about getting through the critical periods in mental illness; keeping a Crisis File.
Mood Disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Dual Diagnosis: Types and sub-types of Depression and Bipolar Disorder; diagnostic criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder, Panic Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; Co-occurring brain and addictive disorders; telling our stories.
Basics about the Brain: Functions of key brain areas; research on functional and structural brain abnormalities in the major mental illnesses; chemical messengers in the brain; genetic research; infectious and developmental "second hits" which may cause mental illness; the biology of recovery; NAMI Science and Treatment video.
Problem Solving Skills Workshop: How to define a problem; sharing our problem statements; solving the problem; setting limits.
Medication Review: How medications work; basic psychopharmacology of the mood disorders, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia; medication side effects; key treatment issues; states of adherence to medications; early warning signs of relapse.
Inside Mental Illness: Understanding the subjective experience of coping with a brain disorder; problems in maintaining self-esteem and positive identity; gaining empathy for the psychological struggle to protect one's integrity in mental illness.
Communication Skills Workshop: How illness interferes with the capacity to communicate; learning to be clear; how to respond when the topic is loaded; talking to the person behind the symptoms of mental illness.
Self-care: Learning about family burden; sharing in relative groups; handling negative feelings of anger, entrapment, guilt and grief; how to balance our lives.
The Vision and Potential of Recovery: Learning about key principles of rehabilitation and model programs of community support; a first-person account of recovery.
Advocacy: Challenging the power of stigma in our lives; learning how to change the system; the NAMI Campaign to End Discrimination; meet a NAMI advocate.
Review, Sharing and Evaluation: Certification ceremony; Party!
TEACHERS and TRAINING
The F-to-F team-teachers are really just family-member volunteers and care providers with the dedication & determination to help other family members. The teachers are drawn from the ranks of those who have completed the "Family-to-Family Education Program."
They get their training--which essentially consists of becoming familiar with the teacher's book that each is given--over one weekend. Other prospective teachers from other localities participate. Some of the weekend's expenses are generally paid for. The teacher-training is a very motivating, emotional & bonding experience.
Likewise, the actual teaching, though it takes a lot of time & pays nothing, is unbelievably rewarding, as the students are generally touchingly appreciative of both the teachers' volunteerism & the 12 lessons' value to them. All the material to be taught is provided by NAMI National in the teacher's book. Each class is intense, with great amounts of information to be covered.
New volunteers are always being sought to go for training. Find info. about upcoming teacher-training dates & locations from the sources named above, or at www.namicalifornia.org under the link "Family to Family."
to Family Education Program What is NAMI's Family-to-Family
The course consists of 12 classes once a week (usually in the evening) that last 2-1/2 hours. Class size is limited to a maximum of 25 persons.
How can I find a course in my area?