Our newest support group is “Day by Day” which meets Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. with Mike Roberts, CPS. This support group is for people who have mental illness and alcohol or other drub abuse. (Although anyone can attend.) Mike is well educated in this area. He has earned a Substance Abuse Counselor Certificate through the Technical College.
Another support group which will be starting Monday, April 15th is a support group for parents who have children experiencing mental illness. This group, co-facilitated by Deb Timmons, CPS and Jacqueline West, CPS will be offered each Monday from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
It can be challenging to attend a support group, especially for the first time. Many of our members face social anxiety and are stepping out of their comfort zones. Once they are among peers, the anxiety seems to lessen. Afterwards there is a feeing of accomplishment.
Following is the structure of the support group: Brief introductions and the reading of “group guidelines” to include respecting confidentiality. What is said here, what you hear here, let it stay here when you leave here. Be respectful of others feelings and others time to talk. Interestingly, three other guidelines are: no politics, no religion and no sports.
Everybody receives a handout with emotions and faces and are asked to identify at least one feeling. It does not have to be on the handout. This is check-in time, an opportunity to share. It is perfectly ok to “pass.”
Inspirational quotes are written on the marker board. This is read aloud and generates a good discussion. All groups end with an educational and fun activity.
We have fidgets available. Fidgets are toys that you can hold in your hands and squeeze. The fidgets are good stress busters that work to alleviate anxiety.
There is an opportunity at the end to wrap up and address any other concerns.
Attendees have overcome difficult situations to say the least, and it is amazing how much sharing goes on. Not just sharing, but listening and giving others feedback. There is power in peer support. Peer support changes lives! As Eric Seubert, CPS and one of the facilitators states, “What happens in support groups is magical!”
Some days there is a larger attendance than other days. For those who are working to lessen their social anxiety, I recommend attending support groups on Mondays and Fridays as they tend to be our slowest days. I then encourage them to try other days.
—By Susan C. Mader, MSSW