Family Support Groups – For Parents


NAMI Family Support Groups- For Parents are free, confidential and safe 90-minute support groups open to any parent or caregiver of a child or youth with mental health needs. Groups follow a flexible structure without an educational format. Individual join a caring group of peers that offer support through their learned wisdom and participants can share as much or as little personal information as they wish. Please note that NAMI Virginia offers NAMI Family Support Groups for family members and friends of individuals living with mental illness. These groups, however, are specifically for parents who have a child or youth with mental health needs.

Research has shown that having someone to talk to is instrumental parents’ journeys. Too often, having a child with mental health needs is an isolating experience. Families often face feelings of guilt and helplessness for their child that can be addressed to a degree by a peer community that offers support, encouragement, and insight. NAMI Family Support Groups- For Parents are informal sources of support and guidance. Groups do not recommend or endorse any medications or other medical therapies.

Program Goals

To support and empower. The goal of NAMI Family Support Groups – For Parents is to offer an opportunity to share the challenges and successes of caring for a child or youth with mental health needs and receive support and informal recommendations through a truly peer environment. Groups offer respect, understanding, encouragement and hope.

Who Leads the Program

A NAMI Family Support Group – For Parents is led by two parents who have been trained and certified through the NAMI Family Support Group Facilitators Model. They play an important role in ensuring that all participants feel welcomed and supported. They are uniquely qualified to lead support groups because they are parents of a child or youth with mental health needs. Facilitators therefore can empathize with and encourage those who are just beginning, or continuing their journey. A NAMI Family Support Group facilitator ensures that the group shares responsibility for maintaining guidelines, sustains clear participant boundaries, clarifies goals, and reinforces communication skills that encourage group participation.

What People are Saying about the Program

The most beneficial thing for me was that I am not alone. I found the support group at a time when I really needed it!”

How to Find the Program in your Community

There are a number of these groups throughout Virginia. For the most current listing of groups, please click here. If your community does not offer a NAMI Family Support Group – For Parents, contact Stephany at or 804-285-8264 x206 for more information. Please note that your community may also offer a NAMI Family Support Group that is open to family members and friends of a loved one living with a mental illness, and parents are welcome to attend one of these groups, especially if your community does not offer a NAMI Family Support Group – For Parents.

How to Give Back

One of our goals is to offer at least one NAMI Family Support Group – For Parents in every region of Virginia. As a result, we are always looking for parents who are interested in being a NAMI Family Support Group facilitator and leading a parent support group in their community. NAMI Family Support Group facilitators are volunteers who become certified by attending and graduating from a 2 day training. The training is designed for facilitators to learn and practice specific skills that will guarantee a meaningful support group experience for all participants. After the training, certified facilitators know how to encourage the group to make room for all of its voices, short-circuit personal sagas, engage the group in subjects of collective interest, encourage collective thought, and circumvent negative interactions by identifying common ground for real discussion among group participants. Facilitators make use of the strategies, structures, and processes they have learned from the training events to ensure the group provides a place that is safe and maintains group guidelines. Facilitator trainees are required to go through an application and screening process before being approved to attend a training event. For more information on how to get started, please contact your local affiliate.

Support a local NAMI Family Support Group – Parents in your community. Our groups utilize volunteers and we are always in need of free spaces to host meetings, promotional assistance and monetary or in-kind donations to offset the costs of resource materials, trainings and refreshments. Contact your local affiliate to learn how you can assist.

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