NAMI offers free mental health education class

Designed for family members

Family members and friends of someone who has a mental illness such as major depression can learn more about the illness, its treatment and ways to better help their loved one by taking a free mental health education class that starts next month. The 12-week class, offered by the local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) chapter, starts Monday, Feb. 5.

The class, called Family to Family, will be taught by Gary and Barb Arnos. Family members themselves, they have taught the class five times already. The 2 ½ hour classes will start at 6 p.m. and be held in Room 2108 of the Bryan hospital, located at 433 W. High Street.

The class is open to the public. Each week, participants will learn about a different aspect of mental illness and receive extensive hand-outs to put in a binder that they will be given.

Topics covered include: the symptoms and facts of illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, panic and obsessive compulsive disorders, as well as understanding how each illness can be effectively treated.

Other topics covered each week are medications used to treat mental illness, how to improve communications with your loved one, problem-solving, and a discussion of why the illness makes the loved one behave differently and say or do things that are difficult to understand.

The class curriculum was developed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness and has been called a “best practice education model” by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Services Administration. NAMI also requires the instructors to complete a training before they are allowed to teach the course.

NAMI Four County has offered this class at no cost to participants for more than 13 years. Evaluations from the most recent Family to Family class included comments saying that it was time well spent because it had helped them better understand their loved one’s illness as well as helped them become a better communicator with their loved one. Others said the class had helped them see life through their loved one’s eyes.

And every class includes at least some participant comments that they learned for the first time that they were not alone in dealing with a mentally ill loved one – that others in the class have similar experiences.

“By the end of the course, participants will have learned so much more than they knew when they started,” Barb said. “But more importantly, they leave the class with a sense of hope and knowledge that there are ways to deal with situations that had been so confusing and frustrating before.”

Although the class is free, pre-registration is requested so enough materials can be prepared for everyone. To register or get more information, call Barb Arnos at 419/270-1502 before the first class.

NAMI Four County is an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The chapter meets the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Four County ADAMhs Board office, T-761 State Route 66, Archbold.

For more information about NAMI and other information about mental health, including local support groups, visit its website:

Designed for family members