NAMI Washington and affiliate organizations around the state conduct a variety of free education and support programs.
Over the past 20 years, these programs have reached thousands of family members and people living with mental illness, establishing NAMI as the national leader in peer-directed education.
From every quarter we hear about the beneficial impact of these programs, and we take pride in the dedication of the thousands of NAMI volunteers who devote so much of their time to teaching and presenting free peer education programs in their communities.
Everyone teaching our classes, facilitating support groups or making presentations to the public has direct experience of dealing with a mental illness, or caring for a loved one with mental illness, and all volunteers go through extensive training.
NAMI programs give you the opportunity to:
- Speak with and get support from people living with mental illness who have discovered how to create and sustain their wellness.
- Take a course from family members who know the emotional challenges of dealing with family trauma and know the value of education as the basis for effective advocacy for their loved one.
- Listen to a presentation from someone in recovery, and find out first hand what it means to live with a mental illness.
- Whether you are a person living with mental illness, a family member, a provider, or are simply interested in understanding more about mental illness, the NAMI Education, Training and Peer Support Center is here to help you learn about the process of recovery and provide you with the support you need.
Here are descriptions of the programs offered:
The NAMI Family-to-Family Education Program is a free, 12-week course for family caregivers of individuals with severe mental illnesses.
- The course is taught by trained family members
- All instruction and course materials are free to class participants
- Over 115,000 family members have graduated from this national program
The course includes:
Current information about schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder (manic depression), panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, and co-occurring brain disorders and addictive disorders
- Up-to-date information about medications, side effects, and strategies for medication adherence
- Current research related to the biology of brain disorders and the evidence-based, most effective treatments to promote recovery
- Gaining empathy by understanding the subjective, lived experience of a person with mental illness
- Learning in special workshops for problem solving, listening, and communication techniques
- Acquiring strategies for handling crises and relapse
- Focusing on care for the caregiver: coping with worry, stress, and emotional overload
- Guidance on locating appropriate supports and services within the community
- Information on advocacy initiatives designed to improve and expand services
For more information about Family-to-Family course offerings in Washington state, download the file at the bottom of this page.
Peer-to-Peer is a unique, experiential learning program for people with any serious mental illness who are interested in establishing and maintaining their wellness and recovery.
- The course was written by Kathryn Cohan McNulty, a person with a psychiatric disability who is also a former provider and manager in the mental health field and a longtime mutual support group member and facilitator.
- An advisory board comprised of NAMI consumer members, in consultation with Joyce Burland, Ph.D., author of the successful NAMI Family-to-Family Education program, helped guide the curriculum’s development.
- Since 2005, NAMI’s Peer-to-Peer Recovery Program has been supported by AstraZeneca.
Specifically, the course:
- Consists of ten two-hour units and is taught by a team of two trained “Mentors” and a volunteer support person who are personally experienced at living well with mental illness.
- Includes mentors trained in an intensive three day training session and are supplied with teaching manuals.
- A binder of hand-out materials, as well as many other tangible resources: an advance directive; a “relapse prevention plan” to help identify tell-tale feelings, thoughts, behavior, or events that may warn of impending relapse and to organize for intervention; mindfulness exercises to help focus and calm thinking; and survival skills for working with providers and the general public.
To enroll in a Washington state Peer-to-Peer course, download the file listed at the bottom of this page.
NAMI Basics is the new signature education program for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illnesses. The NAMI Basics course is taught by trained teachers who are the parent or other caregivers of individuals who developed the symptoms of mental illness prior to the age of 13 years.
The course consists of six classes, each lasting for 2½ hours. Classes may be offered weekly for six consecutive weeks, or may be offered twice per week for three weeks to accommodate the hectic schedules of parents.
All instruction materials are FREE to participants.
The gials of Basics:
- To give the parent/caregiver the basic information necessary to take the best care possible of their child, their family, and themself.
- 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 even after completing the program that will assist in making the best decisions possible for the care of the child.
The course includes:
- Introduction to the stages of emotional reactions of the family to the mental illness; including crisis, shock, denial, grief and acceptance.
- Insights into understanding of the lived experience of the child living with the mental illness, including learning to separate the child you love from the illness that alters their behavior and abilities
- 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 – 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 to build a community of support for the parent/caregiver
- 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
For more information on the NAMI Basics program in Washington state, download the file at the bottom of this page.
NAMI Connection is a weekly recovery support group for people living with mental illness in which people learn from each others’ experiences, share coping strategies, and offer each other encouragement and understanding.
For more about NAMI Connection, download the file at the bottom of this page.