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Free workshop aims to help families coping with severe mental illness

Nancy Ford and Cheryl Zipper both have sons who have struggled with severe mental illness.
Cheryl Zipper and Nancy Ford.

Nancy Ford and Cheryl Zipper both have sons who have struggled with severe mental illness. By participating in a twelve-week course put on by the North Shore Schizophrenia Society, both women found the help they required to better understand what their sons were going through, and to get them the help they needed. Now working with the organization, the women are helping to make the knowledge they gained more accessible to other families, and they’ll be coming to Bowen for a free one-day workshop.
Ford says that for her, the education she received through the twelve-week course helped her gain a critical understanding of how the service agencies her son encountered (such as the RCMP and the hospitals) treated mental illness, and also, she learned the language used to navigate the system.
“I also gained a deeper understanding of what my son was going through,” says Ford. “Mental illness is a really hard thing for many people to get their heads around. We encounter a lot of families who believe that their suffering relative simply needs to pull up his or her bootstraps. Through our courses, we hope to help build empathy and communication skills, and to give family members the tools to love and support the suffering individual.”
The one day workshop on Bowen will cover a range of issues, including symptoms of illnesses, the stages of emotional response that a family typically goes through when encountered with mental illness, navigating the system, and dealing with crisis. Participating families will also get a taste of what they would learn in the twelve week workshop.
The workshop will take place on Saturday, October 4. To register or for more information call Caring Circle at: 604-947-9100 or email

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