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Behavioral Health

Family Support and Education Program

Who helps the families and natural support persons when someone you love has serious mental illness?
Maricopa Integrated Health System offers a variety of services for families experiencing the uncertainty and stress that can accompany serious mental illness (SMI). These services are offered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) evidence-based program, based at the South Central Family Health Clinic.

How does participation work?
Parents, friends, siblings or anyone the diagnosed individual wants to be supported by in their recovery process can be a part of the program. The program works best if the loved one participates, but this is not required for program participation. We partner with the family to focus on the strengths, to identify challenges and barriers to wellness, and to collaborate on how to address these barriers effectively. The program is designed for adults and their families, or youth transitioning to adulthood (17+) and their families.

What are the benefits of this program?
The individuals who participate in the program have shown to have fewer relapses and spend less of their time hospitalized. Their families report the program helped them gain a greater understanding of the illness, feel more competent and knowledgeable about the illness and feel better prepared to help their loved one navigate through life.

What kinds of services are provided?

  • Educational workshops are offered monthly on a variety of topics, from empathy and listening, to listening without judgment and navigating life transitions. Classes will continually be developed based on program participant needs.
  • Individual and family counseling is available. Counseling focuses on issues related to living with mental illness and loving someone who has a serious mental illness. Some of the feelings and thoughts that trouble families tend to be grief and loss, concerns about independence and safety, and disagreement on how to parent an adult with serious mental illness. Program professionals work with the family to collaboratively develop the plan that best describes their needs.
  • One-on-one peer family support is offered.
  • As families become more skilled, they have the opportunity to meet other families on the same journey to share experiences, and expertise in multi-family support groups.

How do you enroll in the program?
The individual or their family of choice can call the program office at 480-344-2251, contact their case manager or psychiatrist to include this program on the care plan (and make a referral).

Research & Resources


Treatment and Services

Program components include planning sessions, educational workshops, ongoing one-on-one supports, multi-family group counseling and individual counseling. Planning sessions are designed to facilitate the family working together to identify strengths and resources, share family experiences and develop shared goals. Group and one-on-one educational topics include a variety of areas, ranging from understanding and navigating the system and community, understanding mental illness and whole health as a path to wellness; to strengths-based communication strategies, compassion fatigue and self-care, crisis intervention, problem solving and providing support to loved ones.

Long-term engagement in the program is encouraged. Ongoing support may include informal coaching and advocacy with a Family Support Partner offered in the home, community and/or office. Ongoing support may also include multi-family group counseling and one-on-one family counseling.


Patient Education

How does the Family Support and Education Program work?

You define family:   Family includes anyone you feel is a support to your recovery process.
We collaborate with you and your family:   We help build family-professional partnerships that focus on your family’s strengths and experiences in order to support your personal recovery goals.
Education promotes understanding:   Get information that will help you and your family better understand mental illnesses, learn to navigate the Arizona mental health system and advocate effectively for yourself and your family.
Ongoing guidance and training are effective:   Learning techniques to reduce stress and improve communication and coping skills can strengthen family relationships and promote recovery.
The problem-solving approach works:   The program focuses on current issues that individuals and families face and addresses these issues through a structured problem-solving approach.
Multifamily groups enhance support:   The multifamily group format connects individuals and families with other families to receive peer support and mutual aid.
Peer-to-peer services help promote compassion and understanding:

  This program employs Family Support Partners who have been personally touched by mental illness and who have experience providing support to loved ones who are working towards recovery.


Appointments and Referrals

To schedule an appointment or learn more, please contact the MIHS South Central Family Health Center at 602-344-6441.

You can self-refer or contact your Case Manager/Primary Behavioral Health provider.

Program Eligibility:

  • Family members with loved ones receiving services in the publicly funded behavioral health system, Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care, are eligible for the program.
  • Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care members may be transition-aged youth or adults.
  • Family is defined by the individual member and may include friends and any other natural support individual(s).
  • Family members may participate independently or with their loved one.

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