Who we are

Families supporting Adults with Mental Illness in Alberta (FAMI-Alberta) is a community of family members who banded together in late 2016 to support one another and advocate for improved treatment for those living with serious mental illness. The first Love You Forever workshop in November 2016 – attended by over 100 family members and other caregivers – was a catalyst for the formation of this group.

With the support of the Canadian Mental Health Association – Edmonton Region (CMHA-ER) and Alberta Health Services (AHS), a core group met over the next few months to organize followup activities (including biannual workshops) and other ways to advocate for loved ones with mental illness. This website is one of the outcomes of that group.

FAMI-Alberta is entirely volunteer-run. We’re currently focused in the Edmonton region, but are happy to hear from families across Alberta.

Our Goals

The main objectives of FAMI-Alberta are:

  • To advocate for improved treatment for people with serious mental illness
  • To be a voice for families of those with serious mental illness
  • To advocate for more involvement by family members in their loved ones’ treatment
  • To help other families navigate the mental health system
  • To work with health care providers and government to improve mental health services
  • To provide resources and educational opportunities for family members to help their loved ones

What we do

Our present activities include:

  • Monthly meetings held second Tuesday of each month at CMHA-ER, #300 – 10010 105 Street NW, Edmonton from 6:30 – 8:30 pm.
  • Semi-annual Love You Forever workshop
  • Facebook group to share questions, concerns and successes with other family members
  • Monthly newsletter
  • Providing families’ perspectives to AHS to help improve practice and policies
  • Helping individual families learn about mental illness and navigating the health system.

Our future plans include:

  • Establishing a family-to-family peer mentor program
  • Recommendations to Alberta Health and the Government of Alberta to improve care for those with serious mental illness.
  • Development of housing systems for family members with serious mental illness.

Get Involved

All family members are encouraged to engage at whatever level you wish. There are many ways to get involved:

Mission and Vision Statement

We recognize that all adults are entitled to dignity and autonomy. We recognize that some forms of mental illness seriously impair the ability to assert personal dignity and autonomy. This means some adults need long term support to maintain dignity and autonomy. We recognize that family is the primary source of lifetime support for these adults. We recognize that all individuals and families are unique in their values, aspirations and needs. We recognize that circumstances change over time.

FAMI-Alberta is for family members (parents, spouses, siblings and friends) who support adults living with the long term effects of a mental illness. We promote and provide information, action and advocacy to enable families to create supports appropriate for their circumstances. We focus on Edmonton Alberta but all are welcome.

Vision: all families have efficient access to resources necessary to be effective lifetime supporters and caregivers of loved living with the long term effects of a mental illness.

Mission: Through direct action and in collaboration with other organizations – promote and provide education, peer support, and advocacy that helps families to be effective life long supporters of their loved ones.

What people are saying about FAMI-Alberta

Jill Kelland, Director, Young Adults & Cross Level Services,
Addiction and Mental Health, Edmonton Zone, Alberta Health Services
(July 2017):

It has been a pleasure to work with the family members who have been working to establish FAMI. There are many reasons for family members to assemble and establish a network, from developing better support for each other to participating in system planning, evaluation and re-design.

Prior to the formation of FAMI it was challenging to know how to engage families in a systematic way as there was no family “infrastructure” to access. The early development of FAMI has allowed those of us in the addiction and mental health system access to a “pool” of family members that we can reach out to for consultation and involvement. To date, this has included:

  • participation in zone-wide strategic planning sessions,
  • participation in a “family presence working group”,
  • development of family resources regarding the Health Information Act and sharing of information,
  • participation in staff development opportunities to share the family perspective,
  • giving input into the development of housing information sessions for family, and
  • the educational boot camps that have been so successful.

On a more individual level, FAMI has also been a resource for clinicians and others within the system to connect family members who are in need of a network. On more than one occasion I have made the connection to FAMI for individuals, which have been met with an immediate response and welcome. I can only imagine how powerful and impactful it is for a family to get an email within minutes of them reaching out for support. I commend the work that has been done so far and am excited about the potential for FAMI to work with us to help transform and improve the addiction and mental health system as well as advocate for the resources that your family members need and deserve.

Love You Forever workshop attendees:

So pleased to see that a group like this is in place; that there is a place for face to face support.

Realizing we’re not alone has given us hope.

The lasting message was: no matter the circumstance, there is hope.

Facebook group users:

Wow! I sure can see that I am asking for help from an empathetic and knowledgable group! Thanks for all the great advice and ideas.

I’m so glad that this group exists.