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NAMI Basics is a free, six-session program designed for parents and other family caregivers of children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral difficulties. NAMI Basics helps parents and other family caregivers of children to understand the illnesses that are causing those behavioral difficulties, and the critical role families play in the treatment of those illnesses. The program is taught by trained teachers who are also the parents or family caregivers of individuals who experienced emotional or behavioral difficulties prior to age 13.

There is no charge for the class, however, registration is required.


Included in the course:

Week 1:         Introduction:  It’s not your fault; Mental illnesses are brain disorders

Special features of the course; learning about the normative stages of our emotional reactions to the trauma of mental illness; our belief system and principles; recognizing that mental illnesses are biological brain disorders.

Week 2:         The biology of Mental Illness; getting an accurate diagnosis

An overview of human development; specifics of brain development; current research on brain mechanisms involved in mental illness in children and adolescents; overview of the diagnostic process; and overview of the types and subtypes of major mental illnesses that can develop in childhood and adolescence (ADHD, ODD, CD, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Schizophrenia, OCD and Substance Use Disorders).

Week 3:         Treatment Works

Telling your stories; overview of treatment options available; explanation of evidence base practice designations; review of various types of mental health professionals in the field; overview of medication as a treatment option for children and adolescents, including the current debate within the field on the subject of treating children and adolescents with medications, including black box warnings.                       

Week 4:         Objective and subjective family burden

Acknowledge the strains of family burden and the impact of mental illness on each family member; learning various skills that can be used to improve day to day communications within the family as well as during episodes of crisis; communication skills, problem solving skills, tips for handling challenging behavior, crisis preparation and response, developing a relapse plan

Week 5:         The systems involved with your child and the importance of record keeping

Learning how to keep records on your child; reviewing a sample record keeping system; overview of the systems your child may be involved with including the mental health system, the school system and the juvenile justice system; introduction to issues that will arise as your child reaches adulthood

Week 6:         Advocacy, Review, Sharing and Evaluation

Building an advocacy team for your child; meet people who are resources for you in advocating for your child; invitation to join NAMI in the fight to end discrimination and ensure access to appropriate treatment services; reminders about self-care; evaluations and certificates