Just thought I would let you know how that support group went.

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DammitJanet, May 21, 2010.

  1. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Here is what I had printed out to give to each of them to look over and read:


    1: Book Club every third or fourth meeting with books about mental health issues. After everyone has read them, we could discuss what we all thought about the books.
    2: Question and Answer time. This would be where anyone who had a question or problem could ask and anyone who either knew the answer or thought they knew where to find the answer or solution would offer it.
    3: Themes for each session such as:

    Social Security Disability
    All the Mental Health illnesses we deal with and what they mean
    How to read a psychiatric evaluation and Diagnosis’s.
    Psychopharmacology and medication guidelines
    Childhood mental health
    Advocating for ourselves and others
    Resources in the area

    4: Along with having the themes to talk about, there would be time to just be there to support each other. That would be the main goal. While information is very important, support is of the utmost importance when dealing with mental illnesses that leave a person feeling alone and isolated.

    After I gave them this hand out and everyone read it, we started talking. Almost from the first I got flack. First off, at least two of them started saying they didnt want to have to read a book between every meeting. I had to explain that wasnt what I said. I was thinking that if we read a book in two months we would be doing good. Then some said...oh ...I dont read well and I dont know if I could find the book...yada yada. So now Im thinking...books on tape and I will make copies! Then some folks said...They make books on tape???

    Heavens knows what will happen to them when they find out what a Kindle is...lol.

    They seemed to understand question and answer except I think they think of it more of a simply talk session. Good enough. Not pushing that.

    They really fought me hard on all the themes. It appears I am going to be the leader for the next year because they want nothing to do with touching any of this. They are scared to death of the ideas of learning about stuff. Its too heavy for them. One lady is a school teacher too and she had to sound out psychopharmacology and then ask me what it meant! She should have at least been able to have guessed at it. This is the same woman who wants to insist that we not use the words mental illness but she will use bipolar or depression. I want to get a shirt that says Mentally Ill and Proud of It. These folks had never heard of a psychiatric evaluation or what an Axis was or what a GAF meant. All this stuff was info I told them I wanted to teach them.

    They asked me how come I know this stuff, if I had gone to school or something. I told them no I hadnt but my kids were diagnosed young and I started to become involved in educating myself about what was going on with them because no one was going to do anything to them that I didnt know about and when I learned about me, no one was going to give me any thing that I didnt know about. Heavens, doesnt that make good, common sense? I wouldnt just take a pill without knowing if it was an antidepressent or a mood stabilizer or an ap. No way.
  2. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    Janet, when I started up the family support group for NAMI back up in PA years ago there was none at the time for kids (that was the one I was doing). There was only the one for adults. It was really slow going and tough building the base, getting people out there, getting it known (flyers and publicity, etc.) and then actually getting people use to the idea and knowing what the needs or wants of the group at large was. I commend you for what you are doing! It is tough, I won't lie. We always had snacks and drinks available as well (a big draw and hit because people always seem to be more apt to come with that available, don't ask me why and it helps too). I had handouts of everything I could find available for each and every meeting and if some topic came up that I didn't have something on, the next time I made sure I got information for that as well. I also tried to find speakers to come and talk at times on certain subjects. You might want to look into that. It's not hard to find someone to speak usually. It can be a professional or a layperson or even someone who has experience. Depends on what the focus is (see what people seem to want to know about). I think I missed what exactly your support group is (the title?) about? Or who it's exactly geared toward?

    The other thing I found is that when you do questions and answers or in general when you get anyone speaking, you have to be really strong on keeping it on topic and focused. I know it can springboard to other things #1 (and that's good but write down where it went for another time to bring up again next meeting). Limit the time or stop it from straying from that particular topic because then the focus is gone and people tend to loose what information they are getting. The #2 problem that can come up (and it may not for you but just a head's up) is that you might encounter someone who likes to dominate all the conversations and others won't be able to get to speak or get intimadated and won't speak up because of this person. Watch for that to occur as well. Try to look for that shy/awkward person you can draw out and help. Those are usually the ones who are in need of the most help but are also the most fearful in asking questions.

    Finally, I found it very helpful to have a meeting every now and again where I gave and outline of the steps from A to Z in what to do when you need to get help. Since I was dealing with families with children as our focus it would be seeking help for the child-how to do it, where to go, what to ask, when they are diagnosis what it means, the actual diagnosis's definitions, medications, treatment options, etc...on down to IEP's. I didn't get into detail with this outline in the meeting, just the steps and let them take it from there to ask further questions (and they always had them). :)

    Oh, ice breaking to get people talking and feeling comfortable too. No one really likes to introduce themselves but, as you know, we can all feel isolated too so I would do different things to get the ball rolling to foster people getting to know one another too.

    I hope this helps you some and if I can think of anything more I'll post it. If you have questions, feel free to ask me too.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Janet, I'd like to say I'm surprised, but I'm not.

    First you have the stigma that goes with mental illness. And even in these much more modern times, it's just as rampant among the general public as ever. Thus the teacher who shudders at the words mental illness but can accept depression and bipolar. Depression and bipolar have become "popular" dxes.......a tad more socially acceptable. This has not changed anything with mental illness as a whole.

    We're starting mental illness in class on monday. Gee, I can't wait. I already know the class's general opinion on the subject and it reflects the general public. There is only 1 other student in the class who sort of gets it because she grew up with a grandmother who is schizophrenic and is caring for her now. Even my instructor didn't feel comfortable teaching it and pawned it off onto a less senior instructor. She and I spoke about it.......and she was utterly amazed I want to be a psychiatric nurse.:tongue:

    And even people who want to be helped......it's not always gung ho. In the back of their minds they're worrying about what family/friends and even the jerk next door might be thinking about them, saying about them, and telling others about them. They can't help it, that's just the way they feel right now.

    We here on the board, in an odd way, were somewhat fortunate. Many of us were exposed to mental illness via our kids. As parents we love our kids unconditionally and are driven (normally) to help them in any way we can. This helped us push back the stigma and teach ourselves the truth about mental illness and the whole process that goes along with it.

    Walk them through it slowly. They'll get there, eventually, if they really want the help. But after their response I wouldn't be surprised you have lost a few members at the next meeting. lol

    BUT honestly, you've got a good plan. You just may have to string it out a bit longer and ease them into it. :D

  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I agree with Hound Dog. The biggest annoying factor in working with these juvenile courts people is finding that they are still viewing MH issues as ignorantly as when I was seeking help for myself almost 30 years ago. I have even felt some tdocs had this attitude, too. The latest thorn hit me when the judge two weeks ago used the word "faulty" in reference to the possible need for psychological treatment. He said it rfegarding me but it was in front of difficult child. "Faulty" implies blame is warranted or something is defective. I find that a highly offensive description of people seeking or needing MH treatment. And if he's an educated judge who jumped to express that opinion in front of a family in his court room, I can only imagine what his judgements are like in determining cases.
  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I liked your outline, Janet. It's clear and logical, and seems to be designed to give people tools to help themselves. I agree with you 100% on educating yourself about what's happening with your kids re: medications...I didn't think that was something unusual. I was all over the place trying to learn all I could about Miss KT's behaviors, including day trips up to San Francisco to attend seminars.

    I hope your group members will accept the info you're offering.
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think they will come along if I have to drag them kicking and screaming. I just about died when they looked at the outline and said it would be a years worth of stuff!

    We do that in a day here!!!
  7. Janet,

    I think that group leadership is a very challenging, but rewarding job. Very few people want to be leaders, but everyone has an opinion about leadership LOL...I have always found it useful to pay attention to the personalities involved in the group and listen to their needs. I have often tossed a perfectly good agenda because the group was moving in a different direction and needed to do something else. That being said, I love what you have put together - it's a great road map for the progress of your group.

    I think that you have gotten some wonderful feedback and suggestions. I agree that refreshments really help. There's something about breaking bread together that really helps a group to bond. I was required to hold a weekly Monday meeting for my team in a previous job. Everyone hated meetings and Monday morning was the worst possible time. I found that it helped to always have food and drink and keep the meeting strictly confined to one hour - never any longer - not matter what. I always tried to make it shorter if at all possible. I'm not saying everyone loved it, but the grumbling slowly diminished.... :) That policy meant that I had to be fairly aggressive about keeping the meeting moving because sometimes the group could get bogged down on some issue or another. I found it helped me to have another person to work as a "timekeeper". Their job was to let us know when we were spending too long on something. I find that people in groups really appreciate it when no one person is allowed to monopolize or control a group - and it's easier when the "timekeeper" redirects.

    Hang in there, I really think you are going to enjoy this experience! I think that is awesome that you have taken on the challenge.

  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You are doing an AWESOME job!! I am so proud of you!!! You put a LOT of hard work and thought into preparing for this.

    You will likely run into a LOT of people who don't know anything about their medications, lab test results, or that bit of jerky stuck between their teeth! So now you get to educate them in a supportive "non-teachy" way. Know what I mean??

    You are amazing!
  9. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    and a side note, the toughest job you are going to absolutely love! ;) Really honest and truly! Sounds to me like you already are enjoying it and moving right along. I didn't say it in the last post and I meant to but it's great that you are doing this and cudoos FOR doing it!!! :D