Mental illness: families helping families
On Tuesday, June 12, ten family members, all of whom have a loved one in their life who is mentally ill, attended the first Alexandria-based meeting of the Cornwall & District Family Support Group (CDFSG). Hosted by the Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital (HGMH), the peer support group gave local family caregivers a chance to voice to their frustrations and ask questions of other members.
While this was the first time the CDFSG has met in Alexandria, the all-volunteer organization has been championing family caregivers in the Cornwall area for many years. The group's peer support meetings and family-to-family education courses have helped hundreds of caregivers from all across the region.
The organization's key message is that families are NOT alone. "A support group like ours lets caregivers unburden themselves among people who understand what they're going through," says group facilitator James Joyce. "By sharing our ups and downs, we all learn how to better cope with the 'roller coaster' of mental illness."
This new community resource has the full support of the hospital's top management team. "By encouraging groups like this, we push back at the stigma that has surrounded mental health issues for so long," says Linda Morrow, the hospital's Chief Executive Officer. "It also helps families gain some control over what can be an otherwise chaotic life experience."
Given the success of the first meeting, a second one is planned for Tuesday, July 10. To register, family caregivers who are interested in attending should contact the CDFSG at 613-527-1201 to register.
The meetings are free, even the parking. And they're completely private. The CDFSG's one firm rule is: what's said in the group stays in the group.
For more information, James Joyce from the Cornwall & District Family Support Group at 613-527-1201.