NAMI’s Basics Class is the free, signature education program for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental health conditions. Six classes, each lasting for 2 ½ hours, 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. The class is taught by NAMI-trained parents or caregivers of individuals who developed the symptoms of mental illness before the age of 13 years.
Goals of the NAMI Basics Class:
- To give the parents/caregivers the basic information necessary to take the best possible care of their children, their families, and themselves.
- To help the parents/caregivers cope with the impact that mental health conditions can have on children living with illnesses and on the entire family.
- To provide tools for the parents/caregivers to use, even after completing the program, that will assist in making the best decisions possible for the care of their children.
The NAMI Basics Class Includes:
- An 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.
- Workshops on 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.