How NAMI Basics Helps Parents Cope With Their Child's Mental Illness

By Kaitlyn Mellom, Program Coordinator

Adolescence is a difficult time for youth; most are just trying to fit in with other children and find who they are. However, the added stress and confusion of experiencing mental health challenges can significantly affect their ability to feel comfortable and be successful at school. These times are not only difficult on youth, but also on the parents and caregivers who feel at a loss on what they can do to help.

Thankfully, NAMI Dane County offers NAMI Basics to help parents cope. NAMI Basics is a free six-week education class, which strives to educate parents and caregivers of children and adolescents experiencing mental health challenges and behavioral difficulties. Throughout the course, participants gain knowledge on mental health resources and skills which may help support their child in school. NAMI Basics is led by two trained facilitators who have been in similar situations and are ready to share their experiences and educate participants on how to take care of themselves while advocating for the rights of their child.

One participant felt so strongly about the importance of this program that she decided to become a NAMI Basics teacher. Emphasizing how the course helped not only her, but her child as well, she said, “I learned about community resources that could help both my child and I. I came to accept that mental illness is a chronic brain disease that no one caused and that there were ways to have this challenge and lead a happy, fulfilling life. While gaining hope, I learned that I do not need to face this alone and will benefit from the available supports.”


Being educated on warning signs and symptoms of mental illness in youth is the first step in ensuring they receive the appropriate care.

One in five youth have a serious mental health condition, half of which do not receive treatment until nearly 10 years after the first symptoms appear. With the education of NAMI Basics, we can begin to ensure that our youth are exposed to the treatment that could change their recovery.

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the NAMI Basics program, you're in luck! Our Fall 2017 class will begin October 9, 2017, meeting every Monday through November 13 from 6:00-8:30pm. Location TBD.

If you are interested in taking this class, please fill out the interest form here by September 22, 2017. There is no cost to participate.

Have questions? Contact Kaitlyn Mellom, Program Coordinator, at or call (608) 249-7188.