NAMIWC and Washtenaw Community College are pleased to announce a new group: NAMI’s Friends & Family at WCC. This group, which will meet via Zoom 4:30-6PM on September 24 and monthly thereafter, is for students who have a family member, friend, or partner with a mental health condition. Like NAMI’s other Friends & Family groups, this new group will provide a safe and confidential space for WCC students who seek to balance college studies, caring for a loved one, and caring for themselves.
You may wonder, can a virtual meeting provide students the mutually helpful conversations they need? The answer is yes. Such supportive connections are already happening in Washtenaw County. Since the stay-at-home order in March, some well-established, in-person Friends & Family groups began meeting on Zoom. Alex Sciaky, a group leader for the Wednesday group, was enthusiastic about how smoothly the transition to a Zoom meeting went for that group. Amy Higgins, an English Instructor at WCC who will be a group leader for the new group, asked Sciaky if she thought a Friends & Family group that begins as a virtual group could be successful, and she was very reassuring, “Students may even be more comfortable, more likely to give a NAMI support group a try,” virtually, she said. It’s easier to “go to” a Zoom meeting, after all, and for many, a virtual space can feel a little safer for having those vulnerable conversations.
Amy Higgins proposed the new group out of a desire to help students find the support and education she didn’t have as a college student in the late 1980s. While working on her BA and then through grad school, she was the primary support for her mother, a person with bipolar illness and borderline personality disorder. As a creative writing instructor at WCC, Amy believes that writing is not only a creative, but also a healing art. Amy knows from 20 years teaching at WCC that many students who love someone with mental health challenge also struggle to maintain their own mental health, and can feel isolated. The pandemic has only made this need for support and connection greater. Amy will be co-leading the group with Chuck Hughes a local NAMI group leader for over ten years.
If you are a student at WCC who would like to talk to others who “get it,” or know someone who is enrolled at WCC who may benefit from this new group, please reach out to Amy Higgins, firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration is required, and space is limited. Register at https://namiwc.org/about/mental-health-support-groups/wcc-friends-family-online-support-group-registration/