Reason to Hope Family Training

Reason to Hope Family Training is a new international approach to family self-help, based on the Schizophrenia Society of Canada’s Strengthening Families Together (2006) and WFSAD’s Strengthening Families Through Empowerment (2001-2006). It is structured education and multi-cultural support for families, developed and taught by families; it alternates between facts and feelings, and gives information and tools at the same time as it gathers input and ideas from the group. Families receive information about the illness, support for themselves, and skills in how to be an effective caregiver.

Reason to Hope follows a train-the-trainer model, building the capacity of family leaders around the world and allowing exponential reach and dissemination of the training materials. The Training works to connect and support the 450 million families touched by serious mental illness, to provide information and reduce stress leading to health problems.

Reason to Hope was launched as a World Federation for Mental Health Program during the WFMH Congress in Athens in September 2009. Twenty people took the course and eleven of them went on to take the instructor training at the second session. Details will appear on the WFMH Center for Family and Consumer Advocacy and Support Section of the WFMH website by the Spring of 2010.

Learning Objectives for
Reason to Hope

Over the 8-class course families learn:

Course Content

Class 1: Introduction to Mental Illness

Class 2: Schizophrenia

Class 3: Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Class 4: Coping as a Family Part 1

Class 5: Coping as a Family Part 2

Class 6: Treating Mental Illness

Class 7: Living with Mental Illness

Class 8: Advocacy: Striving for Change


Reason to Hope

The Reason to Hope family education course was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and in Kampale, Uganda during 2009. Instructors of these sessions report a successful outcome and will continue to offer the course when sponsorship is available.



RtH Instructor Joyce Bamwenda and group in Tanzania


Course participants

Reason to Hope Course in Session in Dar es Salaam


Motivos para Tener Esperanza

Reason to Hope education and training took place in Montevideo, Uruguay during February of 2009 under the direction of WFSAD President, Martha Piatigorsky. If you wish more details contact La Esperanza at

Reason to Hope Delivered in Kenya for Leaders of Seven Different Countries

Reason to Hope has been delivered in Nairobi, Kenya as part of the pilot project. Kenya was chosen for this first training in order to truly test the ability of the training to cross cultural barriers. We chose to give an abridged training over two days. Our focus was not only to educate, but to be open to cultural and familial differences in order to adapt the final material. The pilot took place with a team of 10 leaders from family support groups in seven countries. The first day was a condensed version of the Family Training, attended as well by 12 family members from the Schizophrenia Foundation of Kenya, and the second day was the Instructor Training.

Instructors at the Reason to Hope Family Training in Nairobi, Kenya in March, 2007

Instructors at the Reason to Hope Family Training, Nairobi, Kenya, March, 2007

At the six month mark following the pilot training, three organizations (Dar es Salaam Voluntary Association, Uganda Schizophrenia Fellowship and the Schizophrenia Foundation of Kenya) have run their first training sessions, and two organizations are currently having the manual translated and plan to soon run their first training (Mental Health Society – Ethiopia, and the Sudanese Family Support Initiative).

Feedback is incredibly positive and families from all three organizations are excited to participate in further training. WFSAD initially trained 10 instructors from eight organizations in seven countries, and 15 family members from across Kenya. The three training sessions run by the newly trained instructors reached over 80 families in three countries, and covered the first few classes of the Reason to Hope manual. Additionally, ten new instructors have been trained in Kenya, and they will begin training families in October.

Reason to Hope
Family Training Launched
at WFSAD Conference

Reason to Hope Family Training launched at WFSAD’s 2007 International Conference on September 27th in Toronto, Canada. There was a full day instructor training followed by a launch party. Registration for the training session was so high that WFSAD added a second training. In total 23 people attended the course from Latin America, Europe, U.S, Africa, India and Asia.

Phase 2 of the program will see the program rolled out in a number of countries over three years. With each training given by WFSAD, 10 leaders of family advocacy organizations from five countries will be trained as instructors in the course; they will then be able to provide the training to families in their own communities on an ongoing basis.

To given an idea of the nature of the course here is an excerpt from Class 1

. . . This first session will focus on understanding mental illness. During this session we will introduce the most common serious mental illnesses: schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (sometimes called manic depression) and major depression. Today we will give you an overview of these, and later in the course you will learn more about them.
Today we will talk about the emotions you feel because of what has happened to your relative. Later in the course we will talk about coping techniques for managing the illness, communication skills, current facts about medications and other important information.
There are “Handouts” for each class, which summarize the main points from the class and give other valuable information. They will be distributed at each class, so you don’t need to take notes. Keep the handouts so that at the end of the course you will have a complete set of notes to refer to. Sharing them with the rest of the family will also be very helpful.


Time: 5 minutes


What can you expect from the Reason to Hope course?

Reason to Hope is about more than factual education about mental illness, though that is an important part of the course.


You will also receive emotional support – from us the teachers, but also from each other. You will have the opportunity to discuss the daily challenges you face; and will learn how membership in a local support organization can give you strength. You will learn how to form your own support group if there is none at present.


You will learn the facts about mental illnesses, the treatment options, the state of research, the services available to your family and your loved one.  These facts will arm you to advocate for what you need; and to fight stigma with true information.


You will be equipped with coping, problem-solving, advocacy and communications skills that will stand you in good stead as you learn to manage living with mental illness in your family.

Special Speakers

Occasionally we will invite experts into the class if we think it necessary, or if you have any special requests. Examples might be a pharmacist to talk about medications or a nurse to talk about going into hospital.

Become a class leader

How did we became knowledgeable enough to give this course? We were trained by our organization to become teachers. A teachers’ guide and the complete course materials are provided. We hope that some of you may later on want to be trained as teachers of the Reason to Hope Course in order to help more families.


Just a few guidelines as to what is expected in class. As we learn together please  keep these principles in mind:

And lastly, we are volunteers and have committed the next ____ days/weeks to provide this course for you. We ask your commitment in attending all the classes. We will provide our personal contact numbers so that if there is a legitimate reason you have to miss a class, you can let us know in good time.
Do we have your agreement on all these points?

Make the class aware that there is a course Glossary that will be given out at a future class. Class should have pencil and paper for the introduction notes.


The language you will encounter in the world of mental health may be different. To help you with this new vocabulary we have developed a glossary of terms, which will explain medical language.
Today we have included a list of books and websites that will help you continue to learn about this subject outside class. . . .