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.
I always figured it was just good luck that I had attended meetings with outstanding group facilitators, but over the weekend, I discovered that these excellent group facilitators had some help. NAMI provides its support group facilitators an agenda, strategies, and processes to ensure that the meetings are run properly and that everyone leaves feeling better than when they arrived.
Meetings begin with a review of NAMI’s guiding principles and the group rules that everyone agrees to follow. Attendees are then invited (not required) to share their stories, but have a time limit of 1-3 minutes and are encouraged to end by describing their current situation/condition as of today. (The goal is to avoid getting mired in the past and look for positive, practical ways to deal with current situations.)
After story time is group discussion – the facilitator generally prioritizes issues brought up during the sharing of stories and, if someone in the group needs and (more importantly) expresses a desire to hear what the group has to say, group members share their wisdom. Near the end of the meeting, the facilitator closes the meeting with a positive message or asks members to share something positive – maybe a goal they have or something they’re going to do for themselves between now and the next meeting.
If you’ve been to a NAMI support group or other mental-illness support group, please share your experience without breaching confidentiality. Did you find the experience helpful or not? If you found it helpful, what was most helpful about it? If you found the group unhelpful, was there something about it that turned you off?
If you haven’t been to a NAMI support group meeting – NAMI Connection (for consumers), NAMI Family-to-Family (for family and friends), or a mixed group of consumers, family, and friends, please find a NAMI support group near you, attend a meeting, and let us know what you think. To find a support group meeting, first track down your Local NAMI Affiliate, and then call or visit its website. Your comments will help us as we start our support group.
To find a local DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) chapter, use the DBSA Locator.
Hands in the air photo available from Shutterstock.