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Family-to-Family program helps loved ones cope with mental illness

cope with mental illness

Living with mental illness is difficult. Loving someone with mental illness – whether that person is a child, a significant other, a parent or a close friend – presents its own unique challenges as well. Your loved one might seem unpredictable or impossible to understand. You might stay up at night, wondering if there’s something — anything — you can do to make this person’s life easier.

The National Alliance on Mental Health, or NAMI, recognizes how stressful it can be to love someone with mental illness. For this reason, the organization started the Family-to-Family course, an educational program that is specifically designed for family members, significant others and friends of people living with mental illness.

What is Family-to-Family?

Family-to-Family is a 12-session course that focuses on coping with mental illness as an outsider. Unlike some other mental health education courses, Family-to-Family is completely free of charge, making it an appealing (and affordable) way to learn more about mental illness.

During the course, the students will hear lectures from mental health professionals as well as people who are struggling with mental illness themselves.

Some of the topics covered in the course are:

  • How to manage crises, solve problems and communicate effectively
  • Taking care of yourself and managing your stress
  • Developing the confidence and stamina to provide support with compassion
  • Finding and using local support and services
  • Up-to-date information on mental health conditions and how they affect the brain
  • Current treatments, including evidence-based therapies, medications and side effects
  • The impact of mental illness on the entire family

Family-to-Family doesn’t just operate in the theoretical — the program aims to give concrete, specific advice to be used in daily life. People who graduate from the program should have a better understanding of how their loved one operates, what they can do to help their loved one recover and how to take care of themselves.

No one should feel alone

People who join the program will also learn that they are not alone. Because Family-to-Family operates in a group setting, people who attend will meet other people whose loved ones are struggling with mental illness.

NAMI offers Family-to-Family courses all across the country. To find a Family-to-Family course near you, visit this website.

At Sovereign Health of Arizona, we believe that each patient’s support system is valuable and integral to a patient’s recovery. For more information about how we include families in the recovery process, contact our 24/7 helpline.

Written by Courtney Lopresti, M.S. in neuroscience, Sovereign Health Group writer

For more information and other inquires about this article, contact the author at

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