Family members of an individual with a severe and/or persistent mental illness have identified that their needs are being overlooked by the mental health system.

 The Family Support Program provides support workers in the five counties. Its mandate is to ensure supportive services to the families and to work with other agencies to better meet the needs of the family. The support workers will also provide help in urgent intervention situations in a timely manner, to ensure ongoing services.

 Program elements include:

 * Provide support and training to enable families to adequately fulfill their roles in relationship to their family member and within the mental health system.

 * Provide engagement, crisis intervention, short-term support, and linkages to appropriate levels of service.

 * Strengthen and maximize natural supports and existing community networking systems that are relevant to the consumer/family.

 * Facilitate support groups, with a focus on self-help techniques, education and
community resources information.

 * Work cooperatively and collaboratively with existing family organizations.

 * A resource centre which provides access to books, videos and audio cassettes on various mental health and mental illness issues.

 Family, friends and other members of the community are precious resources