Families have been and continue to be instrumental in the development and implementation of treatment and support options for people with mental illness. Founded by family advocates, for the last 50 years Federation of Organizations (Federation) has been developing an array of community-based, recovery-oriented services incorporating peers in the professional team to deliver effective services to people with mental illness and their families. Mental illness is truly a family affair and interventions based on family support and education are critical to successful treatment outcomes.

Barbara Faron

In 1972, Federation was incorporated as an advocacy group to improve conditions in psychiatric hospitals and to develop resources in the community for people upon their release. At the time of its inception, families were considered part of the problem and lifetime institutional care was the dominant intervention. The advent of psychotropic drugs in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and the various liberation movements of the time, together with the high cost of keeping 90,000 people in psychiatric hospitals throughout New York State, dramatically changed the nexus of care to the community. At the time there were few community-based treatment resources, and two-thirds of the people released from hospitals in the first wave of deinstitutionalization were sent back to their families of origin, who were ill-prepared to provide the resources required for a successful transition to community living. This gave rise to increased efforts on the part of families to establish the necessary services in the community.

Since 1981, Federation has been employing peers who have a personal mental health and/or substance use history and can share their experiences regarding how families can support clients and navigate the mental health system. Federation’s mental health and substance use programs incorporate family supports into treatment. Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), Community Oriented Recovery Empowerment Services (CORE), Children and Family Treatment Support Services (CFTSS), Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), Personalized Recovery-Oriented Services (PROS), Outpatient Clinic Treatment and Home BEST are all community-based services, which can be provided in the home and engage the entire family. CFTSS and Home BEST employ licensed family peer advocates who have lived experience as the parent or primary caregiver of a child/youth with a social, emotional, behavioral, mental health, or developmental disability. They foster effective parent-professional partnership and promote the practice of family-driven and youth-guided approaches. The Home BEST Program works with youth who are at risk for hospitalization or an out-of-home placement. Their goal is to reduce the rate of residential placement and to optimize the youth’s functioning in the community.

Since 1972, Federation of Organizations has been a leader in advocating for community-based treatment and has developed a comprehensive array of services that support families challenged by mental illness and make recovery a reality for their loved ones. Inspired by the experience and advocacy of families seeking to improve the mental health system, in the last 50 years Federation has evolved into a multi-service, community-based agency and is a major provider of behavioral health and wellness services on Long Island and New York City. Federation operates innovative, successful programs that are designed to meet the needs of vulnerable populations. Federation believes that family involvement in a loved one’s treatment is an integral part of the recovery process for individuals who are diagnosed with mental health and/or substance use disorders.

Barbara Faron is Chief Executive Officer of Federation of Organizations. For more information on family services please contact 631-782-6200 or visit www.fedoforg.org.

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