For the families of persons with mental illness


To the Editor:

Mental illness affects not only the person who is ill, but their families and loved ones as well. 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 NAMI Family-to-Family course has been given nationwide to over 100,000 family members since its inception. It is taught by two trained family member volunteers and is intended to help family caregivers cope with a close relative’s mental illness.

We are pleased to again help increase awareness of this valuable, important program. This year, the 12 weekly classes, offered free of charge, will be held in Oak Bluffs on Thursday evenings from 6:30-9:00 pm, beginning Thursday February 17, 2010 and ending on Thursday, May 5, 2010.

Funded in part by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the course consists of 12 weekly 2-1/2-hour sessions. The classes will cover information about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders and borderline personality disorders. The program also covers topics such as coping skills, crisis and relapse, listening and communication techniques, problem-solving and limit-setting techniques and the family caregiver’s need for self-care.

Peter Weiden, M.D. author of “Breakthroughs in Antipsychotic Medications,” says: “Family members who take the NAMI Family-to-Family course are better equipped to work with mental health clinicians in a collaborative manner. My bottom-line recommendation? Take this course. It will help you learn to cope successfully with a major challenge in your life, and that, in turn, will help your loved one as he or she works toward recovery.”

The course is open to close relatives and significant others of persons with a serious mental illness. However, it is not open to individuals who themselves 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. The class size is normally limited to 20 people and advance registration is required.

Please call 508-693-5872 with any questions and to register.

We are so fortunate to have this program on the Island. Please take advantage of the support it offers. Thank you.

Julia BurgessExecutive DirectorMartha’s Vineyard Community Services