Beginning in November, a National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, Connection Recovery support group will be held in Minot.
The group will meet at the Vincent United Methodist Church on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 7 to 9 p.m. The group is facilitated by people with a mental illness, for people with a mental illness.
"What is nice about the NAMI Connection support groups is that it is run by people who deal with mental illness, for people with mental illness, so everybody is in the same boat helping each other out," Sara Highum, a facilitator for Minot's group, said.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Sara Highum, facilitator for the Connection Recovery support group, speaks about what the group will be like.
"When you are diagnosed, you can get so isolated and you don't know how many people are out there that understand," she said. "People dealing with mental illness just need a safe place to talk with others who are dealing with their same situation."
Highum and others from Devils Lake, Fargo, and Grand Forks attended a facilitator training this month to prepare for the group. Connection groups will be starting in those locations as well. Highum said plans to start the group in Minot have been in place for awhile, because NAMI advocates noticed a need.
"There are educational groups provided by North Central Human Services and Trinity Health-Riverside, but there wasn't a whole lot in the evenings for people who needed support," Highum said.
"It's going to be different than the support group we have at the Harmony Center, too, in that it's geared strictly toward support and not education," she said. "The group will be all about what's going on in people's lives that week, and what they might need help with."
In addition to a focus solely on support instead of education, the group will only involve mental health consumers.
"Sometimes consumers and families are coming from different points of view on an issue, and this group is set up so consumers can talk about the issues together," Highum said.
Other support groups starting up will focus on education, with an educational speaker present at meetings; and another group will include consumers and their family members.
The Connection group will be led by the people in the group. Facilitators have been trained to keep the group on track.
"We don't want the meetings to become grudge sessions," Highum said. "We want them to be geared toward solutions and the ways that people can improve their lives and move forward. It's geared toward helping people recover and feel better about themselves, and demonstrating that people with mental illness do recover."
Highum said the group is open to everyone who has a mental illness, regardless of their mental health diagnosis or the stage of recovery that they are in.
"We all have something in common, regardless of the labels that we've been given, and the door is wide open to anyone dealing with a mental health challenge," Highum said.
"People can come to the group to speak and share, or just to observe, and it's confidential," she said. "We look forward to seeing as many as we can there."