Course helps Martha’s Vineyard families with mental illness

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Massachusetts is sponsoring a free Family-to-Family educational course for family members of individuals with a serious mental illness.

The course is taught by two trained family member volunteers and is intended to help family caregivers cope with a close relative’s mental illness, according to a press release.

More than 115,000 people nationwide have taken the course, including 40 families on Martha’s Vineyard in 2009 and 2010.

“My son’s life has improved remarkably, and I owe it all to the perspective and resources this course gave me,” one participant said.

The program provides information about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, and borderline personality disorder. The classes also cover topics such as coping skills, crisis and relapse management, listening and communication alternatives, and problem-solving techniques. The course also will include speakers who are in recovery from mental illness.

Funded in part by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the free course consists of 12 weekly two-and-one-half hour sessions from 6:30 to 9 pm. Classes start February 17 and end May 5.

The course is open to close relatives, spouses, and significant others of persons with a serious mental illness. It is not open to individuals who suffer from a serious mental illness, unless their condition is stable and they wish to attend as caregivers for close relatives who have a mental illness.

Class size is limited to 30 and advance registration required. Call 508-693-5872 for more information and/or to register.