Mary Lough-Normile, LCSW recently joined the Intensive Family Support Services (IFSS) team as program supervisor. Mary brings with her over 20 years of experience in the field of social work. She has extensive experience with individual, group and family therapy, children’s services, schools, residential services and as a liaison to inpatient programs. Her knowledge of the consumer, the mental health system, and specific treatments available, including medications, are an exceptional match for the needs of the IFSS program.
One in seventeen people have a serious mental illness. That illness affects the person, their family and other caregivers. At OceanMHS, IFSS is here to provide support and services to family and caregivers. Each year we work with sixty families of people with serious mental illness. We provide support, education and referrals to help people better understand mental health, our system of care and how they can be effective supports to their family.
Being a caregiver is one of the most important roles in our society. We depend on caregivers in all aspects of life. When someone is a caregiver to a person with a serious mental illness, IFSS is there to provide support. We understand that stress, isolation, frustration and a lack of understanding of the illness and the system of care can affect each person’s role as a caregiver. IFSS works with family members to address these concerns and increase the effectiveness of care giving.
“Our role is to provide support, education and referrals. Basically we help family members develop realistic expectations and boundaries so they can be more effective caregivers,” says program Supervisor Mary Lough-Normile. Support is provided through groups and individually. Several groups are offered each week, at various locations throughout Ocean County. Mary continues, “We want families to be able to attend a group at a time and location that works for them; this will give them the best opportunity to meet other families as they continue to connect with the community.”
Education is an important component of both groups and individual support. The program provides education on areas of mental illness, medications, mental health services and systems, wellness and recovery, and community supports that are available to all community members. The program also works closely with NAMI Ocean County by assisting with NAMI support group meetings and collaborating on education programs.
Mary is joining fellow team members, Mary Ann Hartmann, Lynn Mitchell, and Elaine Carr. Mary Ann has been with the team for 12 years, Lynn joined the team in 2006 and Elaine came on board in 2008. This dedicated group of professionals finds working with families to be rewarding. They enjoy watching families as they grow together and improve their quality of life.