PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Help for Mental Illness in Families Offered by the Mental Wellness Center

SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA – The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Southern Santa Barbara Chapter offers its next session of the Family to Family course, for family members caring for somebody with a serious mental illness, beginning February 4 (Thursday). Family to Family is an acclaimed course developed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It has frequently been called “life changing” and credited with saving families rocked by serious mental illness. The twelve-week course requires pre-registration.

Family to Family is packed with information to help families find their own right track. The instructors blend presentations and experiential exercises to teach facts about mental health and strategies for solving problems, caring for one’s self balanced against others’ needs, and communicating effectively. The information also includes how substance abuse may co-occur, how mental illnesses affect the brain and behavior, and what treatments are available, along with their side effects. The instructors guide participants through finding help locally, whether for day-to-day concerns or for a crisis.

An important aspect of the course is the support and understanding that people who have been in the same trenches can share. This includes the instructors, who have themselves been care givers, and draws upon the wisdom of their experience to teach the course. In addition, the instructors have undergone rigorous training, ending in certification by the NAMI organization. The instructors are members of the local NAMI chapter operating as a program of the Mental Wellness Center, which sponsors the course.

There is no charge for Family to Family but pre-registration is required, and the course is only open to family members and care-giving friends of somebody with a serious mental illness. Serious mental illness includes schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder, among others. People interested in learning more about Family to Family should contact Carol Hawkes, Family Advocate. Her number is (805) 845-3206, and her email address is

Family to Family is recognized as an evidence-based program by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and has been placed on their national registry. In Santa Barbara, NAMI and its sponsor, the Mental Wellness Center, have graduated close to 600 participants from the course, and their comments have been overwhelmingly positive. Two comments are included below:

This course overall was the single most, without a doubt, helpful and informative thing ever offered in all my years searching for answers. It has helped me to understand better and communicate more effectively with my brother.”

The course has helped me to realize that my son is still inside the body that is oftentimes hidden by the mental illness and that I am not alone in this.”

The Mental Wellness Center, located at 617 Garden Street in Santa Barbara, offers a variety of programs in recovery, education, and family services to Santa Barbara County residents. For more information about our services, please visit the website at, email a request to, or call (805) 884-8440.

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