Families are often the first to know when something is going wrong in the life of a child or adult with a mental health condition. Yet, identifying mental illness and getting good help can be far from easy because:
- Stigma and misunderstandings about mental illness prevent families from facing the problem and seeking help.
- Public mental health services are hard to navigate and under-funded.
- Private mental health care may be too expensive due to out of pocket costs and lack of providers in health plan networks.
- Narrow reading of health privacy laws may lead providers to leave families out of the treatment process.
Families often take on the role of daily caregivers with little or no support and training. However, when families are accepted as full partners in care and have access to education and support, the outcomes are better all around.
Where NAMI Stands
Educational programs delivered by and for families—at every stage of life—must be valued and promoted as a routine, integrated part of mental health treatment.
Resources must be made available to develop and evaluate family educational programs and to create a scientific evidence base comparable to professionally delivered programs.
Financing through federal and state grants, reinvestment of managed Medicaid funds and corporate or foundation support must be made available for the development, administration and evaluation of family-directed programs.
Faith communities, corporate employee assistance programs, community health and mental health centers, veterans’ organizations and cultural organizations should actively partner to offer family education and support.
Virtual technology should be harnessed to make family education and support available online to those who cannot participate in face-to-face programs.
What NAMI Is Doing
EDUCATION FOR FAMILIES OF ADULTS
Over more than 20 years, over 300,000 families of adults with mental illness have graduated from NAMI Family-to-Family, a 12-session family education program offered in communities across the country. Available in Spanish and English. NAMI Homefront is a 6-session class for families, partners and friends of military service members and veterans experiencing a mental health challenge.
EDUCATION FOR FAMILIES OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH
NAMI Basics is a six-session class for parents and other family caregivers of children and adolescents who have either been diagnosed with a mental health condition or who are experiencing symptoms but have not yet been diagnosed. Available in Spanish and English.