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Family-to-Family is a 12-week, 2 1/2 hr. per week, course taught by trained instructors, who have family members  living with mental illness. Lessons teach coping and supportive skills to persons with family members diagnosed with  major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia  or other conditions.

Classes fill fast, so register early. NAMI Geauga County maintains a registration interest list and schedules a class when there are enough participants. If you would like to be added to this list, contact our Program Coordinator at 440-286-6264.  Check our Calendar for up-to-date class dates, times and locations.

Course topics include:  

1. Schizophrenia, Major Depression, Mania, Schizo-effective Disorder.

2. Diagnostic criteria; characteristic features of psychotic illnesses; clinical treatment; dealing with critical periods in mental illness; keeping a Crisis File.

3. Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders: Types and sub-types of Depression and Bipolar Disorder (formerly called manic depression); causes of mood disorders; diagnostic criteria for Panic Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; clinical treatment; sharing stories of the attendees.

4. Functions of key brain areas: Research on brain abnormalities in the major mental illnesses; chemical messengers in the brain; genetic research; infectious and developmental factors involved in mental illness; the biology of recovery.

5. Problem-Solving Skills Workshop: How to define a problem; how to solve a problem; setting limits.

6. Medication Review: How medications work; basic psychopharmacology of the mood disorders, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia; medication side-effects; key treatment issues; stages of adherence to medications; early warning signs of relapse.

7. Inside Mental Illness: Understanding the subjective experience of coping with a brain disorder; problems in maintaining self-esteem and positive identity; gaining empathy.

8. Communication Skills Workshop: How illness interferes with the capacity to communicate; how to respond when the topic is loaded; talking to the person behind the symptoms of mental illness.

9. 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 of recovery.

10. Potential Recovery: Learning about key principles of rehabilitation and model programs of community support; local and other services available; a first-person account of recovery.

11. Advocacy: Challenging the power of stigma; learning how to change the system, and how families unite together against this disability.

12. Review, sharing and evaluation.

NAMI’s Family-to-Family Program “significantly” improves coping and problem-solving abilities of family members of individuals  living with mental illness, according to a landmark study  published in the current issue of Psychiatric Services, a journal of the American Psychiatric Association.

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