Belonging to a mental health support group—where people listen with empathy, “get” where you’re coming from, and offer words of encouragement—can lighten the load of a mental illness.
NAMI Washtenaw has 4 mental health support groups. Group leaders have personal experience with mental illness, either their own or that of a family member, and are trained in group facilitation. Meetings are structured in ways that encourage full group participation. Walk-ins are welcome; no registration is required.
This support group is open to anyone up to age 30 with a mental illness diagnosis.
“Our group is fairly free flowing with a focus on shared experience,” said Spencer, a group leader. “It’s a great space to speak up and be heard amongst a cohort of people that are empathetic and want what’s best for the group as a whole.”
Meetings begin with a brief check-in and then move to talk about feelings and topics such as relationships, medication, and therapies, both tried and true and alternative. Group members appreciate one another’s empathy and help in solving problems.
Young Adults meets every first and third Wednesday of the month, 7–8:30 p.m., at St. Clare’s Episcopal Church/Temple Beth Emeth, 2309 Packard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104.
Connection Recovery Support Group
This group is open to anyone with a mental illness diagnosis aged 31 and older.
“It is not easy to talk about what’s really going on with you,” said Pat, a group leader. “The NAMI Connection format helps smooth the way, especially for newcomers, with the structure of an agenda, group guidelines, and principles of support.”
Meetings are mainly devoted to discussion conducted with these guidelines and principles in mind, such as absolute confidentiality, respect for others, and aiming for better coping skills.
Group member Anna finds the other participants supportive and resourceful. Merely attending meetings can have a therapeutic effect, she said.
Connection meets every first and third Wednesday of the month, 7–8:30 p.m., at St. Clare’s Episcopal Church/Temple Beth Emeth, 2309 Packard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104.
Friends and Family
This group is for adults who have a friend or family member with a mental illness. Meetings revolve around topics of interest to people caring for others, including self-care.
Caring for someone with a serious mental illness can feel lonely and dispiriting. However, said a group member, “coming to meetings empowers me. I feel so much less alone and am inspired by the courage of group members.”
Participants trade strategies and learn from one another. Meetings end “with everyone sharing something they are going to do for themselves that they enjoy,” Chuck, a group leader, said.
Friends and Family meets every third Wednesday of the month, 7–8:30 p.m., at St. Clare’s Episcopal Church/Temple Beth Emeth, 2309 Packard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104.
This mental health support group is for parents of children aged 12 to 25 who have contemplated or attempted suicide. Rather than struggle alone with how to get help for your child and yourself, join this group and share effective strategies with others in the same situation.
Parents Together meets on first Mondays of the month, 7–8:30 p.m., at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, 1819 S. Wagner Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48103. For more information, email Alison at email@example.com.