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18 Fearless Years  

Caregiver Thought Leader Interview
Mike Fitzpatick, Executive Director
National Alliance on Mental Illness

Gary Barg - Editor-in-chief

Gary Barg: Can you tell me about the work of NAMI?

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 NAMI’s 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...read more


Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine


Wednesday August 14, 2013


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