Caring about people, families…and mental illness


(Caring about people)

NAMI graduates another Family-to-Family class, one of whom we spotlight

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has graduated another Family-to-Family class of loving care-givers.  

The NAMI Family-to-Family class is a free, 12-session educational program for family, significant others and friends of people with mental health conditions. It is a designated as an “Evidence-based program,” meaning that research shows that the program significantly improves the coping and problem-solving abilities of the people closest to a person with a mental health condition.

NAMI Family-to-Family is taught by NAMI-trained family members who have “been there,” and includes presentations, discussions and interactive exercises.  One of those trainers in NAMI Hemet-San Jacinto Executive Director, Brenda Scott.  “The NAMI family education course is a valuable tool for family members. This class supports families in a way that allows them to understand what their relative is going through and to be there in the best possible way for their family members. This class has been a life-changing experience for family members who have a relative with a mental health condition,” said Scott.

NAMI Family-to-Family not only provides information and strategies for taking care of the family member, but students also find out that they’re not alone…that recovery is a journey, and there is hope.

Martina Keneally, Family-to-Family graduate.

(Caring about people)

The group setting of a NAMI Family-to-Family course provides mutual support and shared positive impact—experiences, compassion and reinforcement from people who understand a student’s situation. Sharing personal experiences help others in the class. In the program, students learn about:

  • How to solve problems and communicate effectively
  • Taking care of themselves and managing their stress
  • Supporting loved ones with compassion
  • Finding and using local supports and services
  • Up-to-date information on mental health conditions and how they affect the brain
  • How to handle a crisis
  • Current treatments and therapies, and
  • The impact of mental health conditions on the entire family

We asked Family-to-Family course graduate Martina Keneally about her experience.  “I learned so much from this class.  I learned that the illness is not the person; I learned to be patient with a family member who has mental illness issues, and I learned about the different mental illnesses and how they work with the body and how everything is intertwined. I learned about taking personal responsibility and not enabling the person who has mental illness.  I now feel personally…useful.  The self-care skills are so important because we care so much for others that we sometimes forget about ourselves, so it was a great class,” said Keneally.

Keneally has also learned from experience: a sexual abuse survivor, Keneally works with the Center Against Sexual Abuse (CASA) as well as taking classes at NAMI.  “I share my story now, to empower others.  I am a sexual abuse survivor, and I work with CASA as an advocate.  I can tell you from my past abuse and my life history that working with CASA and doing this kind of work is a calling.” Some would say that it’s a calling of the highest order, but Keneally sees it as her mission.  “I am an Advocate at CASA, so I do many crisis interventions, working closely with the police.  I had to be trained to do that kind of work, and so this NAMI class will help further my career.”  Keneally is working towards the day when she can become a certified Human Trafficking Caseworker with CASA, and she knows these NAMI courses will help further that career.  “We learned so much in this class that I want to take the second class as well, so that I can truly retain the information.”

NAMI invites any interested parties to come visit them at their 38th Annual Christmas Party, December 18 from 11am to 1:30 at the Hemet United Methodist Church, 520 Buena Vista Street.  Those interested can call 951 765-1850 or visit

For further information on NAMI, to donate or take courses, please visit

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