Written by Nora Handler, SLN Board member and one of the founding members of Supporting Illinois Brothers and Sisters (SIBS).
When the Sibling Leadership Network was forming, there was discussion about whether to include siblings with all types of disabilities or have a more narrow focus. I am so pleased that we chose to be inclusive and welcoming to siblings of people with ALL types of disabilities. I feel support is especially important for siblings of people with mental illness. Two of my four siblings with disabilities have mental illness. Mental illness is usually at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to funding and services. Finding good mental health care is very difficult and often our family members wait too long for care. Also, finding medication that works for that individual can be a challenge. In addition to all of this is the stigma of mental illness.
As a sib, I sometimes feel powerless and alone in figuring out how to best support my brothers. I recently posted on SibNet asking how many people had siblings with mental illness and had many responses that not only did they have a sibling with a mental illness but also had personal experience themselves with mental illness. I have benefited from the peer support I have received through the SLN. Also, I have been able to call attention to the importance of more awareness related to mental illness through the sibling networks. This matters to a large number of siblings and their families. The SLN continues to work to expand its resources and support in this area.
If you have information or resources that would be helpful to include on the SLN website, feel free to send it to Katie.Arnold@siblingleadership.org.
The SLN provides information, support and tools for siblings to advocate with their brothers and sisters with disabilities and to promote the issues important to them and their entire families. The SLN is welcoming to sibs of people with all types of disabilities.