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Forging Links. Forging Links - between providers of Mental Health services and Family members/Consumers. Background. NAMI of Greater Chicago has provided the Family to Family Education Program since 1995.

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Forging links

Forging Links

Forging Links - between providers of Mental Health services and Family members/Consumers


  • NAMI of Greater Chicago has provided the Family to Family Education Program since 1995.

  • Consumer members requested a similar program. We developed our Pathways in Living Consumer Education Program in 2003.

  • After years in the planning stage, Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for Chicago’s experienced police officers was initiated in 2004.

Who was left out
Who was left out?

  • Family Education

  • Consumer Education

  • Law Enforcement Training

  • Providers

Why and what
Why and What?

  • Need for an educational program for providers

    • Many complaints about providers insensitivity to the needs of consumers and family members.

  • Desire to develop a meaningful program

    • financially do-able and

    • time-effective.


  • Focus Groups

    • Consumers and Family Members

    • CEOs of Provider Agencies

    • Individual in-person interviews with consumers

  • Evaluation of the results of Focus Groups

    • Themes emerged

Themes from focus groups
Themes from Focus Groups

Key concerns about providers from consumers and family members

  • Lack of empathy

  • Negative attitudes toward families—that they are interfering, or blaming families for the illness

  • Not acknowledging the importance of the role of families in recovery

  • Not including families in treatment and intervention planning (with consumers’ permission)

  • Not including families in recovery goals (with consumers’ permission)

  • Lack of knowledge about past history

  • Too directive, focusing on limitations rather than strengths

  • Individualized approach is lost over time

  • Interventions grow more constricting, rather than holistic

  • Lack of transition plan for staffing changes

  • Lack of validation for medical complaints

  • Need Crisis Management / Prevention Plans


Key concerns about patterns of care:

  • Lack of empathy – difficulty understanding client(s):

  • Difficulty allowing consumers to make their own choices including allowing them to fail and be there afterwards

  • Lack of knowledge / understanding of symptoms of illness

  • Difficulty maintaining positive, hopeful, encouraging therapeutic relationship over time

  • Not understanding problems they as staff cause the consumer

  • Care becomes routine not individualized

Providers’ Strengths – rating of 7.8 out of 10

  • Compassionate

  • Creative

  • Individualized care

  • Non-Blaming

  • Knowledgeable about illness

  • Recovery-focused, interactive planning involving consumer and family

  • Relationship with consumer is more than just a job or a routine

Curriculum development
Curriculum Development

  • The repeatedly expressed value of personal stories by participants in our

    • Family to Family classes

    • Pathways in Living Consumer classes

    • CIT police education classes

  • Structured the curriculum around two hours of personal stories

    • Consumer panel

    • Family panel

Curriculum brief overview
Curriculum-Brief overview

  • Consumer and family panels

  • Overview of NAMI of Greater Chicago’s programs & services

  • Verbal and nonverbal skills for engaging clients in recovery

  • Experiential exercise

  • IL Treatment Declaration form

  • 10 Phases of family adaptation to mental illness

  • Crisis prevention and de-escalation techniques

Steps to Implement “Forging Links” Program

1. Plan the Agenda

  • Topics covered

  • Time when panel members will speak

2. Recruitment of speakers

  • 3 Family members + 3 Consumers

    • Let them know of schedule-time they’re needed

  • Recruit speakers to present materials (IL Treatment Declaration Form, engaging clients in recovery, crisis de-escalation techniques)

3 optional ceus
3. Optional CEUs

  • Contact local Universities, or NASW to provide CEUs (Continuing Education Units) to attendees

    • Procedures will vary (may need bios of speakers, full disclosures, objectives)

4 food
4. Food

  • Recruit local restaurant or pharmaceutical company to donate lunch

5 agency invites
5. Agency invites

  • Draft agency invites with registration form and a flier detailing the program

    • Deadline for registration

    • Cost of registration and CEU

6 print gather materials
6. Print/Gather Materials

  • Gather materials to pass out

    • Copies of power points

    • Evaluation forms

    • Pamphlets

    • Resources

    • …..

7 reminders
7. Reminders

  • Make reminder calls to speakers and panel members 1 week before event

Conducting the program the exercise
Conducting the programThe exercise

  • Partner with person next to you

  • One-Eyes closed

  • One-Talking

  • What did you feel? Could you tell if they were listening?

Evaluating the program
Evaluating the program

  • Develop an evaluation form

    • Ask questions regarding…

      • Overall content

      • Speakers presentations

      • Panel members

  • Improvement of program

  • Grant writing

    • “It was very informative to hear the first hand experiences from the panel members. The personal experiences were priceless!”

    • “I will pay more attention to suicidal flags and advocate for consumers.”


Alicia Palmer

Clinical Intern

[email protected]


Suzanne Andriukaitis, M.A., LCSW

Executive Director

[email protected]