Relationships: Family, Friends, and Intimacy

A wide range of materials, training guides, and research reports on the importance of sustained family, friendship, and romantic relationships, as well as a training manual to help community mental health personnel talk more effectively with consumers about their sexual relationships.

Why Mattering Matters: The importance of mattering for people with serious mental illness

For many individuals who experience serious mental illnesses, social isolation and loneliness are part of their experience of everyday life. However, social connection is not simply being in the presence of others. Do people notice when someone is there or when they are absent? Does their presence contribute to the social environment or to the activity? In short, does it feel like they matter? So, while it may seem like simply spending more time with other people might combat loneliness, it appears that reducing loneliness and isolation likely involves more than increasing one’s social connections. Mattering may be a key component to effectively reducing loneliness among individuals who experience mental illnesses. This document presents the importance of social connections and mattering for all people, and why these issues are especially important for people living with mental illnesses. 



Love Like Everyone Else

Love Like Everyone Else title pageJust like everyone else, people who experience mental health challenges desire love, intimacy, and human connection. This document celebrates the experiences of love and intimate partnerships expressed by persons who report having a mental health diagnosis. It is hoped that these first-person accounts will illuminate the importance of love and intimate relationships as vital to health and wellness. The experiences shared in this document highlight specific ways that mental health service users give and receive love and support, just like everyone else who is in a healthy intimate partnership. We hope that these stories provide insight and facilitate important conversations between intimate partners, service providers and consumers, and family and friends.


Sexuality and Intimacy Toolkit

Forming intimate relationships and expressing sexuality can be challenging for anyone, including people with mental health conditions. This toolkit contains information related to preparing direct service personnel for discussions on topics of intimacy and sexuality with persons with mental health conditions. Informed by the Motivational Interviewing technique, this toolkit includes experiential exercises with instructions, evaluation forms, hyperlinks to resources, and references to be used by trainers.



Family Leisure Calendar

It’s January 2018! You know what that means. Resolutions! The time when many people think about goals for the upcoming year. Many people have health & wellness goals at the beginning of the year but end up less motivated as the year goes by. You know how it is, gyms are full the second week of January, but less busy in February. What if those goals were connected to something fun?! And gave you more opportunities to spend time with those you love?

We want 2018 to be different! Setting and achieving family leisure goals can improve the mental and physical well-being of individuals with lived experience, their family members, and even mental health providers. This calendar can help you set and stick to your goals. Designed to help you think about family leisure differently, this calendar will challenge you to identify activities that you enjoy, find free or low-cost resources in your community, and identify people who will help you stay motivated to achieve your goals.

We encourage family friendly recreation facilities to put this calendar up in the lobby to remind patrons that family leisure has positive impacts on your body, mind, and spirit. We hope mental health agencies will use this calendar to motivate consumers and staff to make family leisure a priority. Finally, we hope consumers interested in family leisure will keep this calendar handy and share it with friends and family to make leisure fun and a part of daily life.



Community Inclusion from the Perspective of Caregivers

In recognition of National Caregivers Month (November), Mental Health America (MHA) and the Temple University Collaborative announce the release of their most recent project, entitled Community Inclusion from the Perspective of Caregivers.

Reflecting caregivers’ frustration, fear, hope, and love for those they care for, this monograph highlights and expounds upon the views expressed in a 2016 survey of almost five-hundred caregivers of people with mental health conditions. Caregivers shared their perspectives in thousands of comments on topics such as access to treatment, services, and housing; employment and finances; education and supports; friendships and intimate relationships; religion and spiritually; recreation and community events; and health and wellness. This monograph offers a close up view of the entrenched stigma and barriers that caregivers say their loved ones, and that they also, experience that impact many aspects of their lives.

Caregivers want providers, community institutions and the public to help foster more community inclusion for their loved ones, and for themselves. They call on policy makers and legislators to address structural issues, such as poverty, lack of transportation, and entrenched discrimination, and they implore educators, employers and the general public to become more educated about mental health issues, and to be more supportive, understanding and compassionate.



Addressing Sexuality and Intimacy Interests

Talking about intimacy and sexuality with consumers of mental health services has often been difficult for providers, but the Temple University Collaborative has now issued a new monograph that reviews the research literature in this often neglected field, recommends policy and program changes that mental health administrators can implement to create a more open atmosphere in their agencies, and suggests training programs for direct service personnel that increases both their comfort level and their clinical skills in talking about sexuality and intimacy within the context of their helping relationships. Past research has suggested that direct service clinical and rehabilitation workers are often uncomfortable with these still-taboo topics, although it is increasingly clear that intimacy and sexuality are essential aspects for the recovery of many individuals.
Program administrators and direct service personnel can click here to download a copy of the new monograph. The Temple University Collaborative is also available to provide additional training, technical assistance, and consultation with regard to the intimacy and sexuality needs of those with mental health conditions, including in-person training programs, web-based technical assistance, and long-distance consultation. For more information on these, and other, training, technical assistance, and consultation programs, please contact us.


Family Leisure Toolkit

The Family Leisure Toolkit is a resource that can be used to educate you and help provide ideas on how to jump-start your leisure lifestyle as a family. This toolkit presents information about the benefits of various types of family recreational activities, suggestions for activities and it gives the reader a guide for planning activities. While reviewing the toolkit, we encourage you to consider how you can use family leisure activities to build strong bonds and to enhance your overall health and well-being.


Enhancing Family Leisure Fact-sheet: Consumer

Enhancing Family Leisure fact sheet provides consumers with a resource that defines family leisure and explains the various types of leisure and their benefits. The fact sheet provides readers with an opportunity to learn about initiating conversations about family leisure and explains why participating in family leisure is important.

Enhancing Family Leisure Fact-sheet: Provider

Enhancing Family Leisure fact sheet provides providers with a resource that defines family leisure and explains the various types of leisure and their benefits. The fact sheet provides readers with an opportunity to learn about initiating conversations about family leisure and explains why participating in family leisure is important.


Make Time for fun: Enjoy Activities with Loved Ones

This resource offers activity ideas you can do with loved ones and tips for making them happen. Compiled by our Recreational Therapists, this resource will help to ensure any outing goes off without a hitch.

Date Nights: Things to do with the Ones You Love

This resource offers different activities that consumers can do when heading out for a special night! The topics are broad with examples in each to allow for the reader to fine tune the outing for themselves.

Addressing the Intimacy Interests of People with Mental Health Conditions: Acknowledging Consumer Desires, Provider Discomforts, and System Denial

The Temple University Collaborative announces the availability of a monograph focusing on the intimacy concerns of individuals with mental health conditions. Acknowledging that sexual intimacy is a lifelong priority for all men and women, the monograph reviews current mental health research on the topic, the issues raised by men and women with mental health conditions with regard to the barriers they face in developing satisfactory intimate lives, and the uneasiness of most community mental health practitioners in discussing intimacy and sexuality with the people they serve. The monograph, which offers initial recommendations for the mental health community, seeks to initiate a national dialogue on these issues.


Promoting Consumer Community Integration: For Family Members and Supporters

Family members and other supporters of people with mental illnesses can play a key role in the treatment and recovery process for people with psychiatric disabilities: this Temple University Collaborative tool provides suggestions for family members and friends about the ways they can provide encouragement, foster hope and support self-determination.



Intimate Relationships

This brief document provides consumers and staff with a framework in which to begin talking together about the issue of intimate relationships and the importance of managing romantic involvements and the development of long-term partnerships with significant others in a responsible and productive fashion.




Natural Supports: Developing a Personal Support System

Natural supports – the relationships with family, friends, colleagues at work, and the casual contacts everyone makes in attending a gym or going to school or going to church services, etc. – are all part of everyday natural supports: this brief documents provides guidelines to help consumers build their own network of natural supports in the community.

Circles of Support: Brochure

This brochure provides an overview of the Circle of Support approach, in which consumers’ family members, friends, and service providers regularly meet to assist the consumer in meeting his/her goals. A companion DVD that illustrates a typical Circle of Support meeting can be requested from Lia Lewis at lewisel@umdnj.odu or by calling (908) 889-2535.












Sexuality and Intimacy with Dr. Julie Tennille

In this video Dr. Tennille sits down and discusses sexuality and intimacy as it applies to persons with mental health conditions. We’re partnering with Dr. Tennille to develop a toolkit to help providers discuss sex and intimacy.