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NAMI Basics is the new signature education program for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illness. It is a six-session course, with each session lasting roughly 2½ hours, taught by trained teachers who themselves are the parent or other caregiver of an individual who developed symptoms of mental illness prior to age 13, and is FREE for all participants.

Some of the central components of this program include:

  • Recognition of mental illness as a continuing traumatic event for the child and the family.
  • Sensitivity to the subjective emotional issues faced by family caregivers and well children in the family.
  • Recognition of the need to help ameliorate the day-to-day objective burdens of care and management.
  • Gaining confidence and stamina for what can be a lifelong role of family understanding and support.

What are the goals of the NAMI Basics program?

  • To give the parent/caregiver the basic information necessary to be as effective a caregiver as possible.
  • To help the parent/caregiver cope with the impact that mental illness has on the child living with the illness and the entire family.
  • To provide tools for the parent/caregiver to use after completing the program that will assist in making the best decisions possible for the care of the child.

What does the course include?

  • Introduction to the normative stages of emotional reactions of the family to the trauma of mental illness.
  • Insights into an empathic understanding of the subjective, lived experience of the child living with the mental illness.
  • Current information about Attention Deficit Disorder, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Childhood Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse Disorders.
  • Current research related to the biology of mental illness and the evidence-based, most effective treatment strategies available, including medications used to treat mental illness in children and adolescents.
  • Specific workshops to learn problem solving, listening and communication skills.
  • Examples of strategies that have been found helpful in handling challenging behaviors in children and adolescents.
  • Information about the systems that are major players in the lives of children and adolescents with mental illness in the school system and the mental health system.
  • Exposure to personal record keeping systems that have proven to be effective for parents/caregivers in their interactions with the school and healthcare systems.
  • Information on planning for crisis management and relapse.
  • Information on locating appropriate supports and services within the community.
  • Information on advocacy initiatives designed to improve and expand services, with an emphasis on personal advocates for the parent/caregiver and child on an individual level.

Courses in New York State can be found by contacting your local NAMI affiliate or Wendy Burch at NAMI-NYS (518)462-2000 email wendy@naminys.org

NAMI Basics Outreach Video