Family Support

Find an active support group in your community

Family Support Groups, for family members, friends, primary caregivers, and loved ones of persons living with a serious mental illness, provide a safe place that offers respect, understanding, encouragement, and hope. Family Support groups offer a casual and relaxed approach to sharing the challenges and successes of walking with someone in recovery and resilience. On average, groups meet monthly for 90 minutes, are offered at no cost to participants, follow a flexible structure without an educational format, and do not recommend or endorse any medications or other medical therapies.

Family Support groups are not clinical, and are not group therapy. NAMI support groups for family and friends of people living with SMI are designed for facilitators to encourage positive interaction and problem-solving among participants, focusing on solutions that originate from the group, rather than a clinician.

All groups are confidential - participants can share as much or as little personal information as they wish, and they follow standardized Principles of Support. Participants are empowered to make decisions about when to share, and when to receive feedback from the group. The principles were developed by experts in the field and experienced participants and facilitators, and include “seeing the individual first, not the illness,” “recognizing that mental illnesses are medical illnesses that may have environmental triggers,” “finding strength in sharing experiences,” “not judging someone else’s pain as less than our own,” and “never giving up hope,” among others.

Family Support groups are open to family and friends of any adult living with a serious mental illness, regardless of diagnosis.

Trained facilitators lead Family Support groups. In keeping with fidelity to the NAMI peer education model, facilitators are also family and friends of persons living with SMI, and who demonstrate the skills and confidence necessary to ensure positive interactions and share lessons from their own journey. Acceptance of this role is often a significant step in leadership and resilience for the facilitators themselves, adding volunteer experiences that strengthen and deepen their experiences as primary support givers.

A deeper level of investment for Family Support group leaders comes with certification as a facilitator trainer at NAMI’s national Train-the-Trainer conference held annually. NAMI Indiana’s grassroots approach, (providing training and technical assistance to local NAMI affiliates across the state who then implement support groups themselves) calls for a deep, geographically diverse, bench of volunteer peer trainers to help facilitators get their groups up and running quickly, in order to meet local community needs.