Family Support Services

Having a family member with a mental illness can be stressful, and the whole family can be affected by their loved one’s illness. Our family support services are here to help, free of charge.

“The Family Support Program at CMHA makes me feel heard.  It is a place to go where I can learn to cope with my challenges around mental illness in my family.” – Susan

For more information, contact Jenn Millan at 250.260.3233 or email [email protected]. Family Support services are located at The People Place 300 – 3402 27th Avenue Vernon, BC.

The Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon & District Branch is currently developing a Youth Integrated Service Hub. This service hub will bring together multiple services under one roof, making access to support for the North Okanagan’s youth more accessible.

Voices of young people, families and caregivers will come together to collaborate on a safe and inclusive space, in addition to programming offered within the Youth Integrated Services Hub so that young people can access mental health and substance use care and resources they deserve.

About the Family Advisory Committee:

Our Family Advisory Committee will help CMHA Vernon uplift voices of youth, families and caregivers to provide input to inform decision-making to develop a meaningful and accessible space for youth, families and caregivers to receive integrated care for mental health and substance use supports here in the North Okanagan.

What we are looking for:

Willingness to share feedback on your experience as a family member helping your child/youth access mental health services in the North Okanagan (current or past experience welcome)

Ability to commit to meeting once per month until March 2024 (Monthly meetings will be held on the 4th Tuesday of every month)

We are eager to hear from family members who support or have supported a person under the age of 25 in the past in Vernon’s mental health system.

Questions? Contact [email protected]

To join the Family Advisory Committee, please fill out the below. Downloadable PDF version available here.

Family Advisory Committee Application

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*This committee has a limited number of seats. We thank you for your application and only those that are chosen for interviews will be contacted. We will keep your application and once space becomes available you may be asked to complete an intake form and interview.

One to One Support

It’s natural to feel many different emotions when a loved one is diagnosed with a mental illness.  We are here to listen and provide you with non-judgmental support and resources.


Family Support

Do you have a family member or friend who has a mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or anxiety? Our support group for family members is a safe, caring place where you can share your hopes, fears, experiences and knowledge with others who also support a loved one living with a mental illness. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

We use the EFFT emotion coaching model.

The family support group consists of five different modules.

  1. Emotions 101
  2. Caregiving Styles
  3. Validation & Emotion Coaching
  4. Validations: Skills Practice
  5. Relationship Repair

No registration is required.

Kids in Control

Kids in Control offers free education and support to children between the ages of 8 and 13 years of age who have a parent living with mental illness. The children meet for one and half hours once a week for eight consecutive weeks. Children who have a parent with a mental illness face a number of challenges, discomforts, responsibilities and fears. They experience many emotions and may deal with unpredictable behaviours or periods of separation from their ill parent.

For more information please email us at [email protected].


  • Academic challenges
  • Difficulty in relationships
  • Confusion
  • Poor coping skills
  • Feeling isolated and alone
  • Reluctance to speak about their family situation because of the stigma attached to mental illness


By providing age appropriate information, dispelling myths and providing support, children gain valuable skills to help them reach their full potential.

Using crafts, games and interactive learning activities, children learn about mental illness and join together in developing healthy attitudes and practicing healthy coping skills for dealing with the challenges they face.

  • Group Building and Storytelling
  • Group Building and Learning to Identify Feelings
  • Learning about Healthy Boundaries and How to Communicate Feelings
  • Learning About Mental Illness
  • Learning about the Treatment of Mental Illness
  • Developing Resiliency
  • Societal Attitudes and Stigma
  • Self-Care and Self Esteem

Past Participant Comments

People here share things with each other without being scared.

It’s a fun group. You get lost of snacks. Don’t be scared if you’ve never been to a group before. It’s OK to try out new things. I learned new feeling words. The other kids were very nice to me. You can’t control mental illness. You can’t cause it. I can take care of myself.

Families Coping with Mental Illness

Due to COVID-19 this program is currently offered virtually. For more information please contact Jenn Millan directly at 250.260.3233 or email [email protected]

FAMILIES COPING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS is a free public education series presented by our family support specialist, health care professionals, community, and family members.  Coffee, tea and snacks provided.  Held on the second Wednesday of the month from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Vernon Public Library.

not offered in July or August

The series curriculum is adapted from BC Schizophrenia’s Family Series:  Strengthening Families Together.

Program Details

This series offers:

  • Support: Families have an opportunity to discuss the daily challenges they face and learn how to connect with others through membership in their local provincial society and chapter/branch.
  • Awareness: Families get reliable and consistent information about mental illness, treatment options, causes, research, and available mental health services, in the hopes of diminishing the stigma attached to diagnosis.
  • Tools: Families are equipped with problem solving, coping, and advocacy and communication skills.



Partnership Education is a very personal and compelling presentation utilizing a panel of three people who offer their personal perspectives on mental illness from the point of view of a person living with a mental illness, a family member and a mental health service provider. The presentation also includes an overview of the major mental illnesses, an interactive exercise (time permitting) and an opportunity for question and answers.

If you would like to book a presentation or if you have any questions, please contact Jenn at 250-260-3233 or email [email protected].


  • Introduction
  • Personal Stories (person living with a mental illness, family member, mental health professional)
  • Questions and discussion
  • Interactive exercise (time permitting)
  • Evaluations

Handouts provided

Time needed:

  • One and a half hours
  • We can adjust the presentation to shorter or longer times as is available.

Supplies needed:

  • Water for speakers.


One in five of us will have a mental illness at some point in our lives. This means that we will ALL be touched by mental illness whether it is ourselves, friends, family members, co-workers or other people involved in our lives through our work, churches, hobbies or community groups.

The goal of Partnership Education is to raise awareness and provide information about mental illness, dispel the myths surrounding mental illness, reduce stigma and fear, and spread a message of hope about early intervention and treatment.

Resource Library

Our office has brochures and a lending library of books and DVDs relating to mental illness, mental health, and substance use/misuse. These items are available for families, people living with mental illness, professionals, and the general public.

Check out the latest additions to our libraries:

  • Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angryby E.B. Lewis
  • The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide: Everything You Need To Know About Living With BPDby Alexander L. Chapman PhD, Kim L. Gratz PhD
  • The Essential Family Guide To Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshellsby Randi Kreger
  • Mind and Emotions: A Universal Treatment for Emotional Disordersby Matthew McKay PhD, Patrick Fanning, Patricia Zurita Ona PsyD
  • Boundaries in Marriageby Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend
  • Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Lifeby Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend
  • Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madnessby William Styron
  • When Someone You Love is Depressedby Laura Epstein Rosen PhD, Xavier Francisco Amador PhD
  • Magnificent Mind at Any Ageby Daniel G Amen MD
  • Electroshock: Healing Mental Illnessby Max Fink MD
  • DVDS: Family Matters: Surviving the Bipolar Journey
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