Gary Barg: Can you tell me about the work of
Mike Fitzpatrick: NAMI is the largest grassroots
organization in the United States
that pays attention to serious
mental illness. We work on
Capitol Hill and all the state
capitals trying to create a more
effective mental health system. We
have seven free education programs
we offer around the country. And,
certainly, part of our role is to
educate the general public.
Gary Barg: As someone with a loved
one who was living with
schizophrenia, I am very interested
in learning about NAMIís work with
schizophrenic caregivers. Can you
detail your schizophrenia outreach?
Mike Fitzpatrick: That is really where NAMI came from
34 years ago. Family-to-Family is a
free 12-week course that focuses on
the needs of our families with
schizophrenia and serious mental
illness. The course really makes a
difference and allows the family to
better understand the illness. What
the best practices are for
treatment. Where do you go for
support? What you should
expect. And most importantly, as
you know for a family caregiver, how
do you take care of yourself?
Then lastly, what services are
available in the community, what
those services do and what your
expectations should be.
Gary Barg: It really pays to be with
your fellow family caregivers going
through schizophrenia care, as well.
Not to isolate yourself.
Mike Fitzpatrick: Absolutely. You have hit it right on
the head. That is why our support
groups are so important. That is why
our education programs are so
important. At the end of the course,
people tend to form their own
support group and informally go
forward and provide each other with
support. The whole issue is that you
are not alone.