Strengthening Families Together (SFT) is a 10-session education program, sponsored by the BC Schizophrenia Society’s Sunshine Coast Branch, that provides information about living daily with a mental illness for family and friends of individuals with mood, anxiety and psychotic disorders. As important as education, the classes provide support, awareness, and tools for family and friends of those with a serious mental illness.
With appropriate early intervention, the consequences associated with untreated mental illness can be avoided or minimized, and the great majority of people recover from the initial acute symptoms of these illnesses.
The recovery process is dynamic, affected by a number of interacting factors. These include the treatment of environment, medication and psychological therapies, factors within the person, and factors within the person’s family and social environment. The recovery process will vary from person to person and take different lengths of time for each person, but one thing is clear: research shows that active family support can have an important positive impact on the recovery process.
Strengthening Families Together provides:
Support: Families have an opportunity to discuss the daily challenges they face; they can learn how to connect with others through membership in the group.
Awareness: Families gain access to reliable and consistent information about mental illness and mental health services and develop an understanding of recovery and the impact of stigma.
Tools: Families are equipped with problem solving, coping, advocacy and communication skills and the know-how to develop their own support system.
Strengthening Families Together helps family and friends understand and empathize with what their loved ones are going through. Family members learn ways to help those who are ill to re-establish a confident sense of themselves, leading to significant and, in some cases, complete recovery. Learning to recognize and effectively respond to early symptoms can prevent or reduce the severity of relapse, and family support is a key part of this process.
The BC Schizophrenia Society, Sunshine Coast Branch is offering Strengthening Families Together this fall. Classes will be held Wednesday evenings, starting Oct. 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Arrowhead Centre in Sechelt. These classes are free of charge, but pre-registration is required. To register, or for more information, call Donna at 604-885-9705.
– Submitted by Donna Motzer, SFT coordinator, BC Schizophrenia Society, SC Branch