Find Help

How We Can Help You & Your Loved Ones

If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate help, please consult our Mental Illness Crisis File.

For non-emergency situations, NAMI-Finger Lakes can help in the following ways:

We have also compiled an extensive Local, Regional, and National Mental Health Resources page that provides information on:

  • What is mental illness?
  • Psychiatric care in Ithaca and in surrounding cities (such as Binghamton, Buffalo, Corning, Cortland, Syracuse, and Rochester)
  • How to Find Homeless and Missing relatives
  • Dual-diagnosis (both diagnosed with mental illness & addicted to alcohol/drugs)
  • Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice system
  • Estate planning for families with ill relatives
  • PACT Teams – a partnership between an ill person and teams of health care professionals, where the Team can visit that person at home to help them stay healthy.
  • Avoiding Other Health Problems Caused by Mental Illness

We also have an in-progress “Navigating The Maze” page that attempts to map out &explain the local and state mental health care system.

If your home situation has deteriorated to the point where your ill relative must leave or must be taken to the hospital for treatment, then we have prepared a sample Intervention Plan.

Finally, these Answered Questions from the 2007 Family-fo-Family course may provide useful information for your family situation.

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Support Groups for Families Struggling with Mental Illness

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. We know the heartache and stress you are going through, and we’ve found that simply talking about your concerns is a great emotional release.

Note that all conversations – both about your relative and our relatives – are kept confidential.

During our conversations we will listen to you as you describe your situation; offer suggestions on treatment options and care providers based on our own experiences, and help you care for yourself as you care for your ill relative.

We can also can provide pointers to specialized support groups formed by our members or by other nearby NAMI chapters. These include:

  •  An Ithaca-based support group for parents of young children diagnosed with Bipolar/Asperger’s Syndrome.
  • A Syracuse-based support group for people with spouses diagnosed with a mental illness.

Our support groups meet 1st Tuesdays of each month, 7-8:30PM, and third Thursdays of each month, 1:30 to 3:00PM.  This free support group is open to all – you don’t have to be a NAMI Finger Lakes member to participate. Call 607-273-2462 for details or e-mail

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Lending Library of Mental Illness Information

We maintain a lending library of books, pamphlets, CDs, and DVDs on all aspects of mental illness, as listed in our Library Holdings.

The library, in the NAMI-FL office, is available for browsing a half hour before support group meetings.

The library is open at 6:30 pm on the first Tuesday of each month before the 7 pm support group meeting and at 1 pm on the third Thursday of each month before the 1:30 pm support group meeting.  It is also available for browsing by appointment.

If you are interested in specific books contact Jean Poland (266-8079 or <a “href=””>   There is a pickup and return box at the top of the stairs leading to the office, the blue box under the window.

Thank you for your interest in and support of NAMI Finger Lakes.  We hope the books are helpful and will be updating the list from time to time.  Please contact Jean with suggestions for books to add to the library.

Also, NAMI New York State has a lending library for members.

Finally, our  Local, Regional, and National Mental Health Resources page lists some essential books on mental illness, family issues, and medications.

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Education for Adults:  The “Family-to-Family Education Course”:

Starting Wednesday, February 3,  2016   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.

You can learn more about the course through the NAMI national Family-to-Family website.

This year’s course will meet February 3 through April 20, 2016, from 6:30 to 9PM on Wednesdays, at the Finger Lakes Independence Center, located at 215 Fifth Street, Ithaca, NY 14850.

Pregistration and a brief meeting are required to participate. Please call 273-2462, or 351-0888, or email

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.

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