An eye opening and supportive twelve-week class for families or friends of people with a serious mental illness who want to learn about the major brain disorders, brain function, and develop coping strategies for self-care while caring for an ill loved one. Call (209) 789-6264 for more information or to register offline.
Class 1 Introduction: 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; your goals for your family member with mental illness; understanding symptoms as a double-edged sword.
Class 2 Schizophrenia, Major Depression Mania, Schizoaffective Disorder: Diagnostic criteria; characteristic features of psychotic illnesses; questions and answers about getting through critical periods; keeping a Crisis File.
Class 3 Mood Disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Dual Diagnosis: Types and sub-types of Depression and Bipolar Disorder, Diagnostic criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder, Panic Disorder; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; PTSD; co-occurring brain and addictive disorders; telling our stories.
Class 4 Basics About the Brain. Functions of key brain areas; research on functional and structural brain abnormalities in the major mental illnesses; genetic revolution in biological psychiatry; genetic transmission of major mental illnesses; infectious and neurodevelopmental “second hits” which may cause mental illness; the biology of recovery; consumer stages of recovery from brain disorders.
Class 5 Problem Solving Skills Workshop. How to define a problem; sharing our problem statements; solving the problem; setting limits.
Class 6 Medication Review. How medications work; basic psychopharmacology of the mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia; medical side effects; key treatment issues; stages of adherence to medications, early warning signs of relapse.
Class 7 Inside Mental Illness. Understanding the subjective experience of coping with a brain disorder; problems in maintaining self-esteem and positive identity; gaining empathy for the psychological struggle to protect ones’ integrity in mental illness.
Class 8 Communication Skills Workshop. How illness interferes with the capacity to communicate; learning to be clear; how to respond when the topic is loaded; talking to the person behind the symptoms of mental illness.
Class 9 Self-Care. Learning about family burden; sharing in relative groups; handling negative feelings of anger, entrapment, guilt and grief; how to balance our lives.
Class 10 The Vision and Potential of Recovery Learning about key principles of rehabilitation and model programs of community support; first-person accounts of recovery from consumer guest speakers.
Class 11 Advocacy. Challenging the power of stigma in our lives; learning how to change the system; meet and hear from people advocating for change.
Class 12 Review, Sharing, and Evaluation . . . Certificate ceremony & party