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NAMI Topeka presents Family-to-Family mental health education class

Mental health advocates say the community must end the stigma attached to mental illness in order for people to get the help they need. NAMI Topeka, part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is presenting a Family-to-Family Education Class, taking place in Topeka. NAMI Family-to-Family’s mission is to provide education for managing conditions, providing support and to helping to break down the stigma of seeking help.

The program is a free 12-session course taught by other family members who have received intensive training for its presentation. Instruction and course materials are provided at no cost to class participants on Monday evenings from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. Workbooks, snacks and bottled water are provided.

Course topics include:

  • How to solve problems and communicate effectively
  • Taking care of yourself and managing your stress
  • Supporting your loved one with compassion
  • Finding and using local supports and services
  • Up-to-date information on mental health conditions and how they affect the brain
  • How to handle a crisis
  • Current treatments and therapies


Authorities estimate one in five people will battle some form mental illness in their life. Many people do not talk about the issue or seek help because of the stigma attached to mental illness.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

NAMI grew from the grassroots need for support and information of family members of individuals living with mental illness. To meet some of those needs in a consistent, replicable way the Family-to-Family Education program was developed by family member and psychologist Dr. Joyce Burland more than 20 years ago.

The program was designed to provide scientific information about the illnesses, research, treatments available and specific skills that would be helpful to families navigating the day-to-day challenges that develop when someone has a mental illness.

The truly unique feature of the course is the fact that it is provided entirely by volunteer family members who are trained to channel their invaluable personal lived experience and use it to strengthen the course curriculum to provide participants in the class with information, resources and skills, as well as much needed support, empathy and wisdom that is not available elsewhere.

The NAMI Family-to-Family program has not only found its voice but that voice now carries an air of credibility that will allow it to be heard with a new level of respect from mental health providers and policy makers for the family members who make it all possible.

In 2013, NAMI Family-to-Family Education Program was added to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).  The national recognition of the effectiveness of the course brought a level of credibility that has only enhanced the value of the program.

One previous class participant noted “This course overall was the single most, without a doubt, helpful and informative thing ever offered in all my years searching for answers… It has helped me to understand better and communicate more effectively with my brother.”

For more information or to enroll in the class, contact Susan Wallace at 785-231-7253 or at namitopeka@yahoo.com. You can also visit www.namitopeka.org, or facebook.com/namitopeka.

Anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or 785-841-2345.

–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice News


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