Archives for Mental Health Support Groups

Advocacy

NAMI Support Groups: Combined or Separate?

We just started a NAMI support group in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Since the town is small (population about 15,000), we decided to start with a combination group, consisting of both consumers (people who have a diagnosis) and family members. We hope eventually to get enough people involved to split into two groups — one exclusively for consumers and the other for family members and friends.

Having both perspectives in a single group has its advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I feel that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
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Advocacy

NAMI Support Group in Crawfordsville, Indiana


Date: 2nd Thursday of every month starting May 10, 2012

Time: 6:30 - 8:00 pm

Place: Crawfordsville First United Methodist Church, 212 East Wabash Avenue, Crawfordsville, Indiana

Group type: For people with serious mental illness and family members and friends who have loved ones with serious mental illness

More info: Visit the Crawfordsville NAMI website for additional information.

(I posted the following when we were training to become NAMI support group facilitators and added the information above as we geared up to actually start our support group.)

My wife and I and one of our neighbor friends spent part of our weekend in Lafayette, Indiana training to become NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) support group facilitators. We're planning to start a support group in our town, Crawfordsville, Indiana later this spring and offer a Family-to-Family course in the fall.

I've been to several NAMI support group meetings in Lafayette (and Indianapolis when we lived there), and I've found them to be very helpful. Even when everything is going well in my family and I don't really need the support, spending time with others who've struggled with mental illness in their families and having an opportunity to help someone by sharing the knowledge I've acquired over the years feels great.

The meetings always start and end on time, and the facilitators have been very good about giving everyone a chance to speak and not allowing any attendee to monopolize the meeting.
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Mental Health Support Groups

Join a Mental Health Support Group and Talk About It

Whenever I attend a mental health support group meeting, I’m reminded of how important it is to talk about what we’re dealing with. I’m also reminded of how difficult the subject of mental illness can be to discuss in our usual social circles, sometimes even with close friends and family members. Stigma-induced fear and shame often silence us, causing us to suffer needlessly in isolation. In a support group, you can open up, release some of that emotional pressure, and lighten your load.

Perhaps more importantly, support groups enable you to tap the knowledge, experience, and wisdom of others to solve problems and avoid common pitfalls. Outsiders can offer a different perspective. They’re less emotionally involved and can think more clearly and objectively about a situation than those who are entangled in the chaos. They may even have had the same or a similar problem and can offer just the solution you need.
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Helping Loved One

Dealing with the Problem Pileup

I recently attended a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) support group meeting that's run as a problem-solving workshop. All attendees are sworn to confidentiality, so I won't go into details, but as one of the attendees described her situation, I felt overwhelmed by what she perceived to be the problem. It was total chaos. What she described as one problem was actually a problem pileup – numerous problems all jammed together.

Problem pileups are common in bipolar disorder. Problems tend to come in waves making you feel confused and overwhelmed. When you're in the midst of it, you may have trouble seeing what's actually going on. As a first step, NAMI advises making a list.

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Get Help

NAMI’s Family-to-Family Training

This past weekend, I participated in NAMI’s Family-to-Family training program to become a facilitator (presenter) for the course. My goal is to work with others to start a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) affiliate and one or more mental health support groups in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and offer the Family-to-Family course to people in the area who have a loved one living with a “persistent and serious mental illness” – bipolar disorder (manic depression), schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, panic and other anxiety disorders including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Family-to-Family is a unique 12-week course (2.5 hours per class), taught by people who have loved ones who are living with one of the serious mental illnesses mentioned previously. The course is designed to lead family members through the three stages of emotional responses:

Dealing with catastrophic events: Characterized by crisis, chaos, shock, and denial.
Learning to cope: Characterized by anger, resentment, recognition, and grief.
Moving into advocacy: Characterized by understanding, acceptance, and advocacy/action.

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