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 are non-profit and have no paid staff. We rely entirely on donations to cover costs of the services we provide. We’re currently focused in the Edmonton region, but are happy to hear from families across Alberta.
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
Our present activities include:
- Monthly meetings held by zoom on the second Tuesday of each month from 6:30 – 7:30 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 health service providers to help improve practice and policies.
- Helping individual families learn about mental illness and navigating the health system.
- Helping policy makers learn about mental illness and how they can improve mental health care.
- Engaging with all levels of government as requested or when need arises.
- Encouraging more resources for community treatment including supportive housing.
All family members are encouraged to engage at whatever level you wish. There are many ways to get involved:
Mission and Vision Statement
Families supporting Adults with Mental Illness (FAMI) Alberta is for family members (parents, spouses, siblings and friends) who support adults living with long-term effects of serious mental illness.
Every family is different. FAMI promotes and provides advocacy, education and information, to help your family access the supports you need for your unique circumstances.
Through collaboration with other organizations, FAMI Alberta promotes and provides advocacy, education and information to help families be effective life-long supporters of adult loved ones living with the effects of serious mental illness.
All families have efficient access to the necessary resources to be effective lifetime supporters and caregivers of adult loved ones living with the effects of serious mental illness.
We recognize that:
- All adults are entitled to dignity and autonomy.
- Serious mental illness may impair a person’s ability to assert personal dignity and autonomy, making long-term support important.
- Family is often the primary source of lifetime support for these adults.
- All individuals and families are unique in their values, aspirations and needs.
- Circumstances change over time.
While we focus on Edmonton, Alberta, all are welcome.
What people are saying about FAMI-Alberta
Visitor to our website (May 2020):
It is just really heart warming to know that there is an organization out there that cares about adults with mental health issues. The FAMI site is put together very well and easy to navigate through so you all deserve some recognition. Thanks again.
Jill Kelland, Director, Young Adults & Cross Level Services,
Addiction and Mental Health, Edmonton Zone, Alberta Health Services
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.