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Published: Monday, January 4, 2010, 12:01 a.m.

Class offers family members ways to cope with relative's mental illness

A free, 12-week series of classes to help people living with a family member who has serious metal illness kicks off in Everett on Jan. 19.
The class, called Family to Family, is being offered in response to ongoing demand, said Jim Bloss, president of the Snohomish County Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Calls from people seeking help with family members who have mental illness are one of the most common reasons people call the chapter, he said.
“We get calls from families … who are just in the first stages of learning that they have a family member who has either been recently diagnosed with mental illness or is having problems,” Bloss said.
The Family to Family class “is designed to help the folks be better prepared, better informed, better educated and to understand what they’re dealing with,” Bloss said.
The program covers mental health diagnoses such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and addictive disorders.
The course is taught by volunteers who know what it’s like to have a loved one struggling with mental illness, Bloss said.
While people with mental illness often eventually get help, family members often feel isolated, he said. “They don’t get the help and support they really need and really suffer.”
That’s why the National Alliance for Mental Illness first began offering the course, he said.
The series was developed by a clinical psychologist whose sister and a daughter were diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Nationally, an estimated 115,000 people have participated in the class.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486, salyer@heraldnet.com.
Family to Family
A free, 12-week program for people with family members who have serious mental illness starts Jan. 19. All classes are from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
For more information, call Jim Bloss at 425-231-5186 or e-mail jfcbloss@earthlink.net.
Story tags » EverettHealthPeopleFamily

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