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Hackensack Course Supports Families Of Mentally Ill

A 12-week Hackensack course is offered to people who care for mentally ill family members.
A 12-week Hackensack course is offered to people who care for mentally ill family members. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- People dealing with family members who have serious mental illness can get help through a 12-week course offered in Hackensack.

The free program is offered at Bergen's Promise from 7-9:30 p.m. and meets every Friday, Sept. 2-Nov. 18. Space is available on a first come, first served basis.

The course is offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Bergen County and is part of the Family-to-Family Education Program.

To register, call Ann Marie Lazarus, 201-935-NAMI (6264).

The course is taught by trained family members and all instruction and course materials are free to class participants.

Over 300,000 family members have graduated from this national program.

This program significantly improves a family’s ability to cope with an ill relative’s mental disorder, according to an NIMH-funded study published June 2011 in Psychiatric Services, a journal of the American Psychiatric Association.

NAMI NJ provides the training for the NAMI NJ Family Educator volunteers and the funding for course materials.

The 12 Education Modules of the Family-to-Family Course:

  • Learning about feelings, learning about facts
  • Introduction to schizophrenia: Diagnosis, critical periods
  • Introduction to depression and bipolar illness
  • Basics about the brain
  • Problem-solving skills workshop
  • Medications review
  • What it’s like to be mentally ill: Empathy Workshop
  • Communications skills workshop
  • Relative groups and self-care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Advocacy: Fighting stigma
  • Certification and celebration

The course offers information about schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder (manic depression), panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), medication compliance and more.

Participants will also gain empathy by understanding what a person with a serious mental illness experiences; problem-solving, listening, and communication techniques; handling periods of crisis and relapse; care for the caregiver; and coping with worry, stress and overload.

Information will be provided about supports and services within the community and obtaining better mental health services; and advocacy for appropriate federal and state policies.

Bergen's Promise is located at 3 University Plaza Hackensack.

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