Alameda Health System recognizes that family members of chronically mentally ill patients are affected in specific ways as a result of living with and/or caring for their children, siblings, parents or other relatives who are disabled because of a mental illness.
Often, following a course of hospital treatment, psychiatrically disabled persons either return home or are cared for in some way by family members. Family members frequently provide much of the support for assisting with transportation, housing, financial, medical and psychiatric needs.
As a result of their important role in their disabled person’s life, family members form a significant part of the services available to help people maintain in the community, rehabilitate and avoid decompensation and/or hospitalization. In order to perform their crucial function, families need additional information, skills and support to improve their own coping and effectiveness in dealing with their disabled family member.
The family/caregiver support program at Outpatient Psychiatric Services seeks to meet these family needs in several ways:
- Weekly Family Support Group
- Monthly Multifamily Therapy Group
- Periodic Family Therapy Sessions
- Information and Referral Services
The Family/Caregiver Support Group
This is a weekly support group for family members and caregivers of mentally disabled persons. The group is held on Wednesday evenings from 6pm to 7pm on a drop-in basis at Outpatient Psychiatric Services. The group is primarily for family members who have a relative currently receiving treatment at AHS OPS but is open to family members of non-AHS OPS patients as well. The goal of the group is to provide information, support and referral to family members and caregivers in order to maximize strengths and improve confidence and effectiveness. Information is provided on mental illness, psychiatric medications, admission and treatment procedures, discharge and aftercare planning, referral resources in the community and coping skills. The group is facilitated by staff members of OPS. If you are unsure if this group is right for you, please call and a staff member would be happy to discuss this with you.
Multifamily Therapy Group
This is a monthly therapy group for family/caregivers and current clients of OPS. The group is held on the last Monday of each month from 6pm to 7pm on drop-in basis at Outpatient Psychiatric Services. This group combines the principals of family therapy and group therapy. Everyone lives within a system either with family, friends or caregivers and as such is affected by them. This can be negative or positive in terms of the patterns and habits of relating that develop over time. The therapist, as well as other group members, can observe these patterns of relating in the group therapy process and intervene in a gentle way that can improve communication, problem solving, symptom management, medication compliance, satisfaction, self-care and functional skills. The goal of the group is to clarify these unproductive ways of relating and make positive achievable and realistic goals for the change. Group members learn that they are not alone, are accepted and supported, can have hope and a sense of competence.
Family therapy sessions for family members and caregivers of current patients in the OPS can be scheduled on a periodic basis. These sessions are held at OPS and facilitated by one of the staff therapists. Family therapy sessions can be very helpful for both the staff, patient and family member by providing an opportunity to identify, clarify and resolve treatment issues, discuss problems at home, make positive goals and communicate about aftercare plans.
OPS has contracts to provide day treatment services for patients on probation through the Alameda County Court Advocacy Program and on parole through the State of California Condition Release Program. These are incarcerated psychiatric patients who have committed non-violent or substance abuse related crimes and clearly would benefit from therapeutic services and structure rather than being in jail or state hospital