PLATTSBURGH — Area residents living with mental health challenges can now find support in a new program being offered locally.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness-Champlain Valley has initiated a weekly support group for people with a wide range of challenges, including bipolar disorders, depression and schizophrenia.
NAMI Connection, facilitated by people who share the same concerns and challenges as participants, provides an atmosphere that offers respect, understanding, encouragement and hope in a setting that is casual and relaxed.
“We didn’t have a (Connection) group locally,” said Jennifer Quaglietta-Tomolillo, a member of the NAMI-CV Board of Directors and facilitator for the new group.
“I attended a group meeting in Vermont and felt it would be a good opportunity to offer the program here,” she added.
Attending a Connection meeting outside the area also provided Quaglietta-Tomolillo with training she would need to facilitate meetings locally.
“I like the idea that we can offer a place where people can come and talk and get support,” she said.
Quaglietta-Tomolillo has been facilitating other support groups for NAMI-CV, and that experience has also enabled her to become co-facilitator for the Connection group along with her husband, Richard Tomolillo.
“This group is a little different than other groups (NAMI) facilitate,” she said. “We don’t keep numbers or records. We don’t write down identifiers (such as names and ages) of participants.
“It’s not about what people come to the meeting; it’s about feeling comfortable.”
All information discussed during the group meetings is confidential. Participants can share as little or as much personal information as they wish, Quaglietta-Tomolillo said.
The meetings follow a structural routine but without an educated format. Each participant has one minute to introduce him or herself, and then the group turns to whatever topic is of interest at that time.