Coming Events:

*Free Family-to-Family Course start Feb 5, 2014

*Free NAMI Basics Course starts March 5, 2014

*Support Group  meets 1st Tuesdays 7:00-8:30PM, and third Thursdays, 1:30-3:30PM. Call 273-2462,

New Information:  

Increasing the LifeSPAN of our ill relatives.

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       NAMI Finger Lakes outreach programs



NAMI-Finger Lakes
Support, Education, and Advocacy for Families Struggling with Mental Illness

Then please contact us.  We've been there, and we'd like to help you. 

           If you are in an emergency situation, then please consult our Crisis File.

NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) seeks to:

NAMI-Finger Lakes is the Ithaca, NY chapter of NAMI.  We are a non-profit organization run by unpaid volunteers, and all of us have relatives suffering from major mental illness. 

We provide free Counseling and Support and a free in-class mental illness education program for school children.  We also  offer a free Family-to-Family Education Course for adults, and for parents of children living with mental illness, we offer a free NAMI Basics Course.  We are also happy to talk with college classes and community organizations about mental illness and its impact on families.

In addition, our Get Help, Navigating the Maze of Mental Health Care, and Even More Help: Local, Regional, and National Mental Health Resources  pages have extensive information on:  

We also suggest you view What Is It Like to Have a Mental Illness?,  which will help you better understand the challenges facing your friends and loved ones.

And here is the NAMI Finger Lakes brochure that describes our organization and programs (document requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader).   Note that our members are very familiar with Ithaca's excellent social services for people recovering from mental illnesses.

For More Information, Please Contact Us At:

Phone: (607) 273-2462


Visit our Office (by appointment only):

NAMI Finger Lakes

West Side Office Center #3

430 West State Street


enter from Corn Street alley with Yoga figure at end,

second floor, office # 3

Mailing Address for Correspondence:

NAMI Finger Lakes, Inc.

PO Box 6544 

Ithaca 14851-6544


NAMI-Finger Lakes Support & Education Programs

Counseling and Support

You are invited to meet with us informally (either one-on-one or in a group setting) to chat about your situation. All members of NAMI-FL have relatives diagnosed with major mental illnesses, and we know the heartache and stress you are going through. We’ve found that simply talking about the situation is a great emotional release.

Note that all conversations are kept confidential.  Our monthly support group is currently meeting the first Tuesday of each month. Call 273-2462 for more information about the support group or one-on-one help.

Education for Adults:  The " Family-to-Family Education Course":

Starting Wednesday,  February 5,  2014   NAMI-Finger Lakes will offer a free twelve-week NAMI Family-to-Family Education Program for family members who have close relatives diagnosed with:

Bipolar Disorder - Also Called Manic Depression

Major Depression


Schizoaffective Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder

Panic Disorder

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

Dual-Diagnosis (Co-occurring Brain and Addictive Disorders)

This free series of twelve weekly classes will help family members understand and support their ill relatives while maintaining their own well-being. Class size is kept small so that everyone can share their thoughts and emotions about their own family situations, and all information is kept confidential.

Parents, siblings, spouses, adult sons and daughters, partners and significant others who are dealing with persons with severe and persistent mental illness are encourage to attend

The course is taught by trained volunteers who have ill relatives in their own families.  Course participants will receive extensive handouts on mental illness symptoms, diagnosis, and medications; caretaker "self-care"; and strategies for helping and communicating with our ill relatives.

The class will meet Wednesday  evenings, 6:30 to 9PM from February 5, 2014  (except for Thanksgiving)  through through April 23, 2014  in downtown Ithaca, at the Just Be Cause Center, 1013 West State Street (the former Ithaca Paint and Decorating Building). 

Class size is limited to 20 people, and pre-registration is required -  call 607-273-7286 or 607-351-4114 or

Please consider joining us - over 115,000 family members in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have completed this course, and we think that you will be pleased by all the assistance the program offers.  You can view the course syllabus by clicking the "Get Help" tab above.

Finally, note that a recent study sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health found that NAMI's Family-to-Family Education program "significantly" improves coping and problem-solving abilities of family members of individuals living with mental illness. See   Outcomes of a Randomized Study of a Peer-Taught Family-to-Family Education Program for Mental Illness, Lisa B. Dixon et. al, Psychiatric Services, Vol. 62, No. 6.

NAMI BASICS: Education for Parents with Children Living with Mental Illness

NAMI Basics is the new education program for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illnesses.  This free course will meet at the Ithaca Science Center resource room from 6PM to 8:30PM on Wednesdays from March 5, 2014 to April 9, 2014. 

The program will provide an overview of mental health issues and the school system's roles in treating children with mental illness, and will also discuss how to advocate for your child.  For more information about NAMI Basics, ples, call the NAMI-FL phone line at 607-273-2462 or e-mail

The NAMI Basics course is taught by trained teachers who are the parent or other caregivers of individuals who developed the symptoms of mental illness prior to the age of 13 years.  The course goals are:

  1. To give the parent/caregiver the basic information necessary to take the best care possible of their child, their family, and themselves.

  2. To help the parent/caregiver cope with the impact that mental illness has on the child living with the illness and the entire family.

  3. To provide tools for the parent/caregiver to use even after completing the program that will assist in making the best decisions possible for the care of the child.

This free course consists of six classes, each lasting for 2 hours, and is described in this informational video.   

Parents and caregivers taking this course will learn the following vital information:

  • Introduction to the stages of emotional reactions of the family to the mental illness; including crisis, shock, denial, grief and acceptance.

  • Insights into understanding of the lived experience of the child living with the mental illness, including learning to separate the child you love from the illness that alters their behavior and abilities

  • Current information about Attention Deficit Disorder, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Childhood Schizophrenia and Substance Abuse Disorders

  • Current research related to the biology of mental illness and the evidence-based, most effective treatment strategies available, including medications used to treat mental illness in children and adolescents

  • Specific workshops to learn problem solving, listening and communication skills

  • Examples of strategies that have been found helpful in handling challenging behaviors in children and adolescents

  • Information about the systems that are major players in the lives of children and adolescents with mental illness the school system and the mental health system

  • Exposure to personal record keeping systems that have proven to be effective for parents/caregivers in their interactions with the school and healthcare systems

  • Information on planning for crisis management and relapse

  • Information on locating appropriate supports and services within the community to build a community of support for the parent/caregiver

  • Information on advocacy initiatives designed to improve and expand services, with an emphasis on personal advocates for the parent/caregiver and child on an individual level

Education for Children: The" Breaking the Silence" Program

We feel that it is very important to teach children that mental illness is a no-fault brain disorder.  To this end, NAMI Finger Lakes will come into any classroom - upper elementary, middle school, and high school - and  present the "Breaking The Silence" Program.

"Breaking the Silence: Teaching the Next Generation About Mental Illness" (BTS) is an educational package designed to teach students on three grade levels, upper elementary, middle school, and high school about serious mental illness. It was created in 1999 by the NAMI-Queens/Nassau Education Committee with funding from NAMI’s Campaign to End Discrimination and the support of NAMI-NYS.

This attractive, easy to use educational package for three grade levels, upper elementary, middle school and high school, uses stories to humanize serious mental illness and teach that these illnesses are no-fault brain disorders. Students also examine the role the media plays in perpetuating stigma.

"One of the biggest pluses of ‘Breaking the Silence’ is that the kids now view and talk about mental illness with the same ease and sensitivity as cancer or heart disease."
 Peter Fitzpatrick, Middle School Health Teacher, Hicksville, NY" 

For more information, see the NAMI National's  Breaking The Silence Web Page: