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New Study Shows Benefits of Support Groups for Parents of Adult Children with Mental Illness


Parents of adult children with mental illness who participate in education and support groups such as those offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) experience more positive outcomes and fewer burdens than those who do not, according to a study in the current issue of Psychiatric Services.

“Participation in support groups (such as NAMI) through education and mutual support encourages parents to become advocates for their loved one, fight the stigma of mental illness, and take on various leadership roles,” reports the study.

On Friday, July 2, the 2010 NAMI Convention in Washington, D.C. will also hear preliminary findings from a new rigorous randomized trial by Lisa Dixon, M.D., Ph.D. and Alicia Lucksted, Ph.D. of the University of Maryland into the effectiveness of NAMI’s Family-to-Family education program.

Family-to-Family is a free 12-week course for family members of people living with serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is taught by local NAMI family members.
“NAMI provides education, support and advocacy throughout the country. We are grateful for the support of our grassroots volunteers. They donate time and energy to changing lives,” said NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick.

NAMI also sponsors a NAMI Basics course for the parents and caregivers of children and adolescents showing early symptoms of mental illness, along with other education and support programs.
Parents and other caregivers face daily stress that can affect their own health and relationships. Another recent study, Caregiving in the U.S. 2009 mirrored findings in NAMI reports on schizophrenia and depression that surveyed caregivers. In the depression survey, almost 50 percent of caregivers who responded had been diagnosed with depression themselves, but only 25 percent were in treatment.

In Greenville, South Carolina, WYFF-TV (Channel 4) recently reported: “When local families can’t get the help they need, many turn to NAMI.” Said one local family member: “I can’t imagine life without NAMI. I thank God for them. They changed our life.”

About NAMI
NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI has over 1100 state and local affiliates that engage in research, education, support and advocacy.



 2010 NAMI Convention
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