NAMI Basics is an education program for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illness. The six session course is taught by trained teachers who are also parents/caregivers of individuals who developed the symptoms of mental illness in childhood. The course provides the fundamentals a caregiver needs to care for themselves, their family, and their child who is living with a mental illness. The course consists of six classes, each lasting 2 ½ hours, usually offered once per week.
All instruction materials are FREE to participants.
Development of this program was based on the success of other NAMI signature education programs for consumers and families available across the country. NAMI drew on course elements which have been extensively tested and found to be highly effective in the field. These elements include:
- recognition of mental illness as a continuing traumatic event for the child and the family;
- sensitivity to the subjective emotional issues faced by family caregivers and well children in the family;
- recognition of the need to help ameliorate the day-to-day objective burdens of care and management;
- gaining confidence and stamina for what can be a life-long role of family understanding and support; and
- empowerment of family caregivers as effective advocates for their children.
The process of emotional learning and practical insight for families occurs most readily, and dependably, on the guided group process which takes place when individual family members are in a class together. This program will also take advantage of advancing technology which allows programs to virtually connect families and provides broader access to vitally important information.
What are the goals of the NAMI Basics program?
- To give the parent/caregiver the basic information necessary to take the best care possible of their child, their family, and themselves.
- To help the parent/caregiver cope with the impact that mental illness has on the child living with the illness and the entire family.
- To provide tools for the parent/caregiver to use even after completing the program that will assist in making the best decisions possible for the care of the child.
What does the course include?
- Introduction to the stages of emotional reactions of the family to the mental illness; including crisis, shock, denial, grief and acceptance.
- Insights into understanding of the lived experience of the child living with the mental illness, including learning to separate the child you love from the illness that alters their behavior and abilities
- Current information about Attention Deficit Disorder, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Childhood Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse Disorders
- Current research related to the biology of mental illness and the evidence-based, most effective treatment strategies available, including medications used to treat mental illness in children and adolescents
- Specific workshops to learn problem solving, listening and communication skills
- Examples of strategies that have been found helpful in handling challenging behaviors in children and adolescents
- Information about the systems that are major players in the lives of children and adolescents with mental illness – the school system and the mental health system
- Exposure to personal record keeping systems that have proven to be effective for parents/caregivers in their interactions with the school and healthcare systems
- Information on planning for crisis management and relapse
- Information on locating appropriate supports and services within the community to build a community of support for the parent/caregiver
- Information on advocacy initiatives designed to improve and expand services, with an emphasis on personal advocates for the parent/caregiver and child on an individual level