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Family Wellness

Experiencing Mental Health or Substance Use Challenges? You’re Not Alone.

Mental health-substance use-family-peer support
Mental health-substance use-family-peer support

If your family is impacted by mental health and/or substance use challenges, getting support from others who have been there can really help.

When you have a loved one who’s experiencing a mental health and/or substance use challenge (and let’s be honest — they often occur together) you may have many feelings. Shame, fear, grief, disappointment, and isolation are all common.

But you don’t have to face these feelings alone. And you don’t have to look for support or tackle complex systems like mental health, education, juvenile/adult justice, and substance use treatment alone either.

There is a whole network of families who share your experience and who are trained to support other families. They are called Family Peer Specialists, and they provide family peer support.

Free resources available

Through family peer support, families receive education, information, and the support of others who have had similar experiences. This service is free and available across the country. Family Peer Specialists have different titles in different states (family partners, family navigators, parent peers, etc.), but they all share a similar goal. They help you learn from the experiences of others; feel less alone; gain hope, ideas, and information; and access treatment and support services.

Navigating systems to access support can feel complicated and overwhelming — like a door with a complex lock system that is unfamiliar or seemlingly impossible to open. Family Peer Specialists are like a key — they have experience and knowledge, and they know the language, the process, and the forms that need to be completed. And perhaps most importantly, they understand how you are feeling and will walk with you on your journey to hope and healing so you are not alone.

Accessing support

Gaining access to family peer support is simple. The National Family Support Technical Assistance Center (NFSTAC) is a perfect place to start. They offer free monthly webinars, trainings, and resources that provide the kind of support and knowledge that can help.

NFSTAC is led by the National Federation of Families, a national family advocacy network with member organizations that provide family peer support in most states across the country. Both believe parents, caregivers, and family members are the experts — they understand their families’ strenghts and needs, and are a powerful voice in getting the right care for their loved ones.

We invite families to visit the National Family Support Technical Assistance Center to learn more and to register for upcoming events. In their resources section, you will find information and resources on a wide variety of topics important to families who are impacted by mental health and/or substance use challenges.

We hope you will also connect with an affiliate of the National Federation of Families in your state or community to learn what family peer support and other programs may be available to support you and your loved one.

Most importantly, we want you to know you are not alone. Many families have been where you are and the family peer support workforce is specialized to help.

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