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 Ontario, Canada

NAMI Provider Education Course

– Teaching Those Who Serve Us

About the Program

The NAMI Provider Education course presents a penetrating, subjective view of family and consumer experiences with mental illness to line staff at public agencies who work directly with people with severe and persistent brain disorders. The course helps providers realize the hardships that families and consumers endure and appreciate the courage and persistence it takes to find ways to reconstruct lives which must be lived, through no fault of the consumer or family, "on the verge."

The Provider Education course emphasizes the involvement of consumers in the challenging work of provider-staff training. The teaching team consists of five people:


  • two family members trained as NAMI Family-to-Family Education Program leaders;
  • two consumers who are knowledgeable about their own mental illness, have a supportive relationship with their families, and are dedicated to the process of recovery; and
  • a mental health professional who is also a family member or consumer.

Few teaching programs employ consumers in this kind of sustained training effort in which they are paid to participate on a teaching team as they present a 5-week course.

The course reflects a new knowledge base, the "lived experiences" of coping with a brain disorder or caring for someone who struggles with this life-long challenge. Including this deeply personal perspective creates an appreciable difference in the program's content. It adds a means of teaching the emotional aspects and practical consequences of these illnesses to the academic medical information in the course.

In written evaluations and in focus-group surveys of their reactions to these classes, staff members reported that the course was fresh, relevant, helpful, enlightening, and emotionally overwhelming.

Participants felt that not only had their approach towards families changed, but that their understanding of consumers' dealing-with-life dilemmas had expanded as well. Almost every participant described how his or her own clinical practice had changed because of what was learned in class.

Who It's For

Although the program is designed specifically for direct service staff at public agencies, it is suitable for any person who could encounter people with mental illness in their line of work: doctors, nurses, paramedics, psychologists, mental health workers, teachers and guidance counsellors, ministers and priests, police, and many others also.

Where It's Offered

●       Belleville

●       Brancroft

●       Kingston

●       Sarnia-Wallaceburg

●       Ottawa - we would like to offer this training in Ottawa and are looking for volunteers; we need a service provider to lead the team of 5, which includes two family membes and two consumers.  If you are interested in this learning and volunteer opportunity, please contact Madeleine Bertrand at f2fontario@bell.net.