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NAMI Family-to-Family classes planned in Brattleboro

BRATTLEBORO—The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont, a grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of Vermont individuals and families affected by mental illness, begins the new year by educating and offering support to those with family members who live with mental illness.

According to a news release, this “life changing” program is offered yearly in several counties across Vermont. In addition to helping with the everyday challenges that might be expected by the friends and family of those living with mental illness, the classes provide up-to-date research surrounding mental illness.

In Vermont, approximately 23,000 adults and 6,000 children and teenagers face serious mental illness, according to data from recent years. Many family members and friends want what is best for their loved ones living with a mental health condition, but often do not know where to start or how to help.

Most people living with a mental health condition can lead fulfilling, productive lives, but NAMI-Vermont says that its “Family-to-Family” program can help increase understanding and knowledge of family members and friends in order to enhance those bonding relationships.

There are more than 300,000 family member graduates of the Family-to-Family program nationwide. This program aims to educate families about a variety of mental health diagnoses such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder (manic depression), panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, and co-occurring mental health and addiction conditions.

The class offers up-to-date information about wellness and recovery, treatment, medications and their side-effects, mindfulness and whole health modalities, and other psychosocial options. Not only are participants taught how to empathize and understand the person living with mental illness, but they also will learn how to address their own needs, coping with worry, stress, and emotional overload.

This unique and helpful class is 12 weeks long, occurring once weekly, free of charge, and begins March 7 in Brattleboro. Family-to-Family is registered on SAMHSA’s list of evidence-based programs. Registration for the class is required and can be found on the webpage. The course is offered in part by a grant from the Vermont Department of Mental Health.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #448 (Wednesday, February 28, 2018). This story appeared on page C3.

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