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Mental health nonprofit will host a family-to-family class

Registration now open for the virtual course

Registration for the Utah Chapter of the National Association of Mental Illness’s virtual, eight-week family-to-family course is open here.  
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will present an online family-to-family course in October. The eight-week class will cover such topics as the impact of mental illness on family and friends, mental-health care services and communication and problem-solving skills
Photo by Christene Finch

One in five Americans live with a mental health condition, according to the National Association of Mental Illness.

The Utah chapter of the nationwide nonprofit known as NAMI recognizes this and wants to help local residents understand mental illness., It  also provides tools that will help them cope and help their loved ones who may be struggling. 

It will do that through an eight-week family-to-family virtual class l beginning in October, said Julia Loughlin and Lana Youngberg, NAMI members, volunteers and educators.



Registration for the free class is open at namiut.org/our-programs/for-families-caregivers/nami-family-to-family.

It’s very stressful to see someone you love struggle and not know how to understand it…” Julia Loughlin, NAMI member and educator

“Anyone who has a family member, loved one, partner or friend in their lives who is struggling with mental illness or has a mental illness diagnosis is encouraged to register,” said Loughlin, who teaches the class with Youngberg. “It’s very stressful to see someone you love struggle and not know how to understand it, how to help them and how to help yourself.”



There is no hard start date for the class, but it will start based on the number of registrants, and will be held Wednesdays, according to Youngberg.

The classes will cover the following topics:

  • Stigma and discrimination
  • The impact of mental illness on family and friends
  • Stages of emotional responses
  • Mental-health disorders
  • Mental-health care services
  • Getting a diagnosis
  • Mental-health conditions overview
  • Treatment options, including medications
  • How the brain works
  • Communication and problem-solving skills
  • Understanding collaboration, empathy and recovery
  • Preparing for possible relapses or crises
  • Self-care and moving forward

“Our technical assistant will email people information about a topic before each class, so it’s not too overwhelming,” Youngberg said. “Classes run approximately 2 ½ hours, and it seems to go by so quickly, and people can look at the information after each class.”

While it may be tempting only to attend classes that address certain topics, Loughlin says there are benefits to attending each class and encourages registrants to tune into all of them, if they can.

“Even if every minute of it doesn’t directly relate to what your loved ones are struggling with, the journey with the other people in the class and what you hear and what you learn is so powerful,” she said. “It’s worth the commitment.”

While the class members will support each other, the course isn’t designed to be a support group, Loughlin said.

“It’s a contact-driven course, and it’s an education-driven course,” she said. “It’s critical for the rest of us to still be able to be well ourselves, and sometimes that’s challenging when you are helping others. So, we give you coping mechanisms.”

The class is also a safe place for those who are struggling, Youngberg said.

“It’s based on confidentiality, so people can feel free to share their feelings,” she said. “People realize that they are not alone. When you are faced with something you haven’t seen or know about, it’s frightening. So, to be around other people who are going through the same thing is helpful.”

Loughlin said she and Youngberg have seen the benefits the class has on attendees.

“We’ve had people come out of class feeling they have a new lease on life,” she said. “We have people who have gone on to be advocates in the world, and we’ve had people go on to start their own NAMI affiliates.”


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