Friends and family living with a person who is managing a severe and persistent mental illness also live with that illness.

Strengthening Families Together is a six-session program that provides knowledge, support, and tools for families to better cope with mental illnesses together. Participating families learn the facts about psychosis, schizophrenia, mood disorders, and other severe and persistent mental illnesses; and the impact of stigma. They gain information about treatments, side-effects, and the impact of substance use. Sessions cover communication skills, stress management tools, self-care planning, crisis planning, and family advocacy. Participants also learn about the mental health system in BC — including how it works and who is involved, as well as what happens when a person becomes involved with the criminal justice system. Through discussion and group exercises, families build supportive connections with others who share similar experiences and learn about how to access BCSS Family Support Groups available across the province.

Funded by donors, Health Authorities, and the Ministry of Health in the areas where they are delivered, Strengthening Families Together is provided free of charge to participants.

Find a Strengthening Families Together program near you.

Since 2016, BCSS has been offering Strengthening Families Together – First Nations, a program that was adapted from Strengthening Families Together Program. The program is adaptable for traditional cultural practices to be included and honoured. The program is currently under revision.

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