Friday, October 21, 2011

Early Intervention is the Avenue of Hope

By Teri Brister, Ph.D., LPC, Director of Content Integrity

For parents and caregivers of youth living with mental illness there is finally confirmation for the faith we have placed in our remarkable education program. As the creator of the NAMI Basics Education Program I am thrilled with the recent publication of an article that I coauthored in the Journal of Child and Family Studies describing a two year research study of the NAMI Basics program. The results of the study indicated that NAMI Basics produces “significant improvement” in families’ communication and coping skills.

Validation of a program we have devoted so much time to for years offers a moment of great satisfaction. As the scientific foundation for our program continues to strengthen, we can profess the benefits of our methods with ever more confidence. Specifically, the study found that:

  • Parents and caregivers who participated in the study reported improvements in self-care and empowerment, based on information and about resources, parenting strategies and self-advocacy.
  • Participants “also experienced a reduction in inflammatory communications,” through control of anger, preemption of problems, and being highly specific about expectations.
  • Participants did not report changes in “affirmational communications” within the family. However, this may simply reflect the emphasis of the curriculum.

NAMI Basics was designed for parents and other primary family caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illness. It is currently available in 36 states through NAMI State Organizations and Affiliates. The program is peer lead, meaning that the teachers of the program are themselves parents/family caregivers of children living with these disorders. This structure creates an intimacy that few programs possess and consequently, a program one whose capabilities are unparalleled.

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