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 Ontario, Canada

The NAMI Family-to-Family Education Course

– For Families, Friends and Partners

The NAMI Family-to-Family Education course has been designed and written by an experienced family-member mental health professional.

The course follows a set curriculum which balances education and skill training with self-care, emotional support and empowerment. Important components of the course are:


  • Our emotional responses to the trauma of mental illness.
  • Symptoms and diagnosis of common mental illnesses: Schizophrenia, Depression, Bipolar Illness (Manic Depression), Borderline Personality Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
  • Getting through Critical Periods of Crisis.
  • The biology of the brain, and new research.
  • Medications used to treat mental illness, and their side effects.
  • Problem solving and limit setting; rehabilitation.
  • Coping skills; handling crisis and relapse.
  • Understanding what it's like to have a mental illness.
  • Listening and communication techniques.
  • Self-care; recognizing the normal emotional reactions to chronic worry and stress caused by mental illness.
  • Connecting with appropriate community services and community supports.
  • Advocacy: Getting better services, fighting discrimination.

The NAMI Family-to-Family Education course is designed for the family members of people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar illness, (manic depression), panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or who exhibit behaviors that strongly suggest one of these diagnoses. The course is not appropriate for individuals who are themselves suffering from one of these mental illnesses.

The course is not designed for families whose relative's primary diagnosis is that of addiction or substance abuse although these issues are discussed in the context of concurrent diagnosis (someone with a mental illness who also has a substance abuse or an alcohol problem).