I have been part of the most recent Elkhart County Family to Family Education Program sponsored by NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) and would like to share this experience with anyone who has a loved one with a mental illness.
My family and I have a loved one that was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, psychosis and mania about four years ago. After he had several arrests (with lengthy jail time), lost many jobs, was homeless, experienced poor self-esteem and depression, stopped taking his medications and was institutionalized many times, we decided to sign up for the 11-week Family to Family program sponsored by NAMI. This program is a blessing — a true godsend for anyone trying to help a loved one with a mental illness.
The program has helped us understand the illness and how it affects our loved one, how to communicate with our loved one, suggestions regarding treatment for mental illnesses, community support programs for our loved one, where to start with financial help and what we can realistically expect from our ill relative. We have been given great program materials and the program has also given us an opportunity to share experiences and knowledge with other families.
We would like to thank the educators and NAMI for making Family to Family possible. The program provided us not only with great information and tools, but also a sense of hope and encouragement.
The fall classes begin Sept. 15 and continue through November. Classes are held Mondays from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 431 S. Third Street in Elkhart. These classes are free. You can register by calling Gwen at 574 534-5220.