A class focusing on how mental illnesses affect family members and caregivers held its first of 12 classes, but there's still time to join the course.

Course organizer Jessica Montgomery said a few spaces remain in the National Alliance on Mental Illness - or NAMI - Family-to-Family course offered in Madison. Even though the group held its first class of the 12-week course, space is still available for a few more people, she said.

Montgomery said the group will meet for the next 11 weeks at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Faith Lutheran Church, 3024 Michigan Road. People may register for the class by calling (812) 292-1047. People may walk-in register for the class as well, but people should be at the church by 6:30 p.m.

Classes covers everything from education and support for families to advocacy and overcoming stigmas of a mental illness. The course also offers some of the newest brain research related to mental illness.

The NAMI Family-to-Family course is taught by Montgomery and Jeff Pflug.

Organizers said the course helped them to understand their family member's mental illnesses when they took the class years ago, and they hope the course helps others in the area understand they aren't alone when it comes to dealing with mental illness issues.

Organizers stress that the Family-to-Family course offered focuses on the support and education of immediate family members and caregivers. The course is not appropriate for people who have been diagnosed with mental illness.

Classes will discuss medications available for mental illnesses, problem-solving techniques, coping mechanisms and self-care skills for caretakers and immediate family members who deal with mental illness on a frequent basis. The class also offers open discussion in a safe environment for family members, caretakers and course organizers about issues stemming from mental illnesses, organizers said.

More information about NAMI and the services offered by the organization may be found online at www.nami.org.