NAMI Family-to-Family

What People are Saying about the ProgramThis program made a tremendous difference in my relationship with my daughter. I can’t believe how uninformed I was about mental illness. I have already referred three people for the next class.”The course has helped me to realize that my son is still inside the body that is often times hidden by the mental illness and that I am not alone in this.”


NAMI Family-to Family is a free, 12-class education program for family members of adults living with mental health condition. In this program family is viewed from a broad perspective to include parents, siblings, spouses, adult sons and daughters, partners and significant others. The course is designed to help all family members understand and support their loved one with a mental health condition while maintaining their own well-being. The course includes information on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and other mental health conditions.

NAMI Family-to-Family is included in the Substance Abuse SAMHSA’S National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices and research has indicated that the class is effective in reducing the subjective burden (emotional stress) of family members while increasing empowerment (sense of having both the rights and the information or skills needed to understand a given situation and to meet one’s goals within) through increased knowledge and understanding of serious mental illness, the mental health system, and self-care.

Program Goals

To educate and empower. The goal of NAMI Family-to-Family is to provide current information and resources around the major mental illnesses and recovery while also providing specific skills around supporting a loved one living with a mental health diagnosis while also ensuring individual wellness. Specific elements include:

  • Current information and research about the major mental illnesses and biological aspects of these illnesses.
  • Current information on the possibilities for living in recovery, including a variety of treatment strategies.
  • Empathy by creating an understanding of the subjective, lived experience of a person living with mental illness.
  • Specific skills training in the areas of problem solving, listening, communication techniques and handling crises and relapse.
  • Focus on care for the caregiver such as learning to cope with worry, stress and emotional overload.
  • Guidance on locating appropriate supports and services within the community and tips to advocate for them.

Who Leads the Program

NAMI Family-to-Family teachers are trained NAMI leaders. They play an important role in ensuring that all participants feel welcomed and supported. NAMI Family-to-Family teachers are uniquely qualified to lead a class because they love and support a person living with a mental health condition. Teachers therefore can empathize with and encourage those who are just beginning, or continuing their journey with a loved one. NAMI Family-to-Family teachers ensure that the class achieves the educational objectives.

How to Find the Program in your Community

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How to Give Back

NAMI Family-to-Family teachers are volunteers who become certified by attending and graduating from a 3-day training. The training is designed for teachers to learn and practice specific skills that will guarantee a meaningful and informative educational experience for all participants. After the training, certified teachers know how to deliver class content; encourage collective thought; and direct energy towards productive outcomes. Teachers make use of a class manual and facilitations skills to ensure participants experience a safe learning environment. Teacher trainees are required to go through an application and screening process before being approved to attend a training event.

Support a local NAMI Family-to-Family program in your community. Our classes utilize volunteers and we are always in need of free spaces to host classes, promotional assistance and monetary or in-kind donations to offset the costs of materials, trainings and refreshments.