SMILES Program: Simplifying Mental Illness + Life Enhancement Skills.

TARGET GROUP: Children aged 8-12 yrs old who have a parent or sibling experiencing a mental health problem (specifically schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety).

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: 3 day program (9am-3pm) usually delivered during the school holiday period or a 6 week program (1 day a week, 4pm-6.30pm) delivered in conjunction with health services or appropriate non-government organisations. Minimum 8, maximum 10 participants. Resources are included as part of the program.

AIMS: To provide age-appropriate education about mental illness and life skills; to improve capacity to cope more effectively and increase resilience; to improve self-expression and creativity; to increase self-esteem and reduce feelings of isolation.

CONTENTS: Education about mental illness; communication exercises; problem solving; art work; music; interactive and relaxation exercises; peer support.

BACKGROUND: Developed in 1997 by Erica Pitman as a result of the increasing recognition that children in families affected by mental illness are a population ‘at risk’ for developing their own mental health problems. Erica has an Advanced Diploma of Applied Social Science, Certificate IV Workplace Training, Funeral Celebrant Training, Certificates of Management, is a clinically registered counsellor with the NSW Counsellors and Psychotherapists Association Inc (CMCAPA) and a registered member of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia Inc (RMPACFA) and a registered supervisor of the Australian Counselling Association. Erica’s professional work is enhanced by her own experience as the sibling of her deceased brother who struggled with epilepsy and childhood schizophrenia.

Download Free COPMI Resources

For use by families where a parent has a mental illness, their supporters, and services who work with them.