NATURE AND PREVALENCE OF THE PROBLEM
When a person suffers from mental illness, his or her family members are often under constant pressure as caregivers for their sibling, parent or relative. In addition, family members often become isolated from their friends as a result of stigma against mental illness, and they may also experience stress-induced physical problems, resulting in poor health, missed work and lost wages. Most family members in this situation feel alone, hopeless and confused about how best to manage their situation. The Family Guidance Center’s Intensive Family Support Services (IFSS) program works to meet the unique needs of these family members (and close friends).
The National Alliance for Mental Health reports that one in four adults, or 21,063 Warren County residents, experiences a mental illness in any given year, and that one in 17 adults, or 4,956 Warren County residents, lives with a serious mental illness. If you consider that many of those nearly 5,000 adults have family members residing in Warren County, you can see why the IFSS program can be extremely helpful.
WHAT WE DO TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM
The IFSS program is specifically designed to meet the needs of family members and friends of adults with a mental illness. IFSS helps families and friends become more educated about the different types of mental illness and what researchers tell us about possible causes. IFSS also provides family members with information about available local treatment and supportive resources. Finally, IFSS helps families and friends develop techniques to better cope with some of the more challenging behaviors and symptoms that adults with a mental illness can display, so that families can maintain and enrich their relationship with that person.
Activities and services include:
- Individual consultations, where staff meet with family members or friends to assess needs and develop a plan for education and support.
- Family support groups, where family members and friends provide mutual support and share helpful information.
- Psychoeducational workshops, where staff provide education and information regarding mental illness, treatment options and coping skills.
- Respite services, where staff provide family members and friends with invaluable “time off” from their caregiving responsibilities while staff engage the mentally ill person in an in-home or community activity.
- Lending library, where family members may borrow books, pamphlets and/or DVDs about pertinent topics related to mental health.
- Free weekly transportation for adult family members throughout Warren County who have a family member hospitalized at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris Plains. Facilitating regular meetings between hospitalized consumers and their family members can be very helpful for the entire family.
IFSS’ services are provided free of charge at all three Family Guidance Center locations—Washington, Phillipsburg and Hackettstown—for families to access. IFSS services are also made available to family members in their homes or at other convenient community locations, such as coffee shops, libraries, etc.