The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts is sponsoring a free family-to-family educational course in Oak Bluffs for family members of individuals with a serious mental illness. The course has been given nationwide to over 100,000 family members since its inception. It is taught by two trained family member volunteers and is intended to help family caregivers cope with a close relative’s mental illness.

The class is funded in part by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, and will consist of 12 weekly two and a half-hour sessions from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Classes begin on Thursday, Feb. 19 and end on Thursday, May 7. They will cover information about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders and borderline personality disorder. The classes also cover topics such as coping skills, crisis and relapse, listening and communication techniques, problem solving and limit setting techniques and the family caregiver’s need for self-care.

The course is open to close relatives and significant others of persons with a serious mental illness. However, it is not open to individuals who themselves suffer from a serious mental illness, unless their condition is stable and they wish to attend as caregivers for close relatives who have a mental illness. Class size is normally limited to 20 people and advance registration is required. For more information or to register, please call 508-693-5872. See also