Series to focus on mental disorders: Course designed to help affected families

Big Island volunteers will sponsor a National Alliance on Mental Illness Family-to-Family Education Program specifically for families of people diagnosed with serious mental illness.

The series of weekly classes are from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 14 through May 26 in the St. Joseph’s Church meeting room at 43 Kapiolani St. in Hilo.

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The course will cover:

• Information about mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, the mood disorders (bipolar disorder and major depression), panic and obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder.

• Coping skills such as handling crisis and relapse.

• Basic information about medications.

• Listening and communication techniques.

• Problem-solving skills.

• Recovery and rehabilitation.

• Self-care around worry and stress.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. The curriculum was written by an experienced family-member mental health professional and the course will be taught by NAMI Hawaii Big Island family-member volunteers who have taken intensive training as course instructors.

The co-teachers for the Hilo area will be Carolyn Oki, Carol Denis and Kathy Hammes.

“This course is a wonderful experience,” Oki said. “It balances basic psychoeducation and skills-training with emotional support, self-care and empowerment. We hope families with relatives who have a serious mental illness will take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

The course is designed specifically for parents, siblings, spouses, teenage and adult daughters and sons, partners and significant others who are caregivers of people with severe and persistent mental illness.

“The course is not appropriate for individuals who themselves have a major mental illness,” Oki said.

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NAMI advocates for access to services and treatment, provides support, promotes research and is steadfast in its commitment to raise awareness and build a community for hope for all those in need.

The NAMI Family-to-Family Education Course is free. For more information or to register, call Oki at 935-3518, Denis at 935-0615 or Hammes at 959-2426.

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