You are not alone
The Cornwall and District Family Support Group is partnering with the Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria to explore the possibility of hosting a monthly peer-led meeting for family caregivers. The aim is to help families with a loved one dealing with a serious mental illness.
“Research has shown that family caregivers can make a big difference in the recovery process,” says James Joyce, a facilitator with the all-volunteer organization. “However, it’s often hard for them to know what approach works best. That’s where peer support groups like this can really have a positive impact.”
The support group has been holding meetings in Cornwall for family caregivers for over a decade. Over the years, meetings and family-to-family education courses have helped hundreds of caregivers from all across the region. The key message that the organization’s web site, ListenToFamilies.ca, stresses is that families are not alone. “A support group like ours lets caregivers unburden themselves among people who understand,” says Mr. Joyce. “By sharing our ups and downs and taking strength from each other, we all learn how to better cope with the ‘roller coaster’ of mental illness.”This welcome initiative has the full support of the hospital’s management team. “By encouraging initiatives like this, we push back at the stigma that has surrounded mental health issues for so long,” says Louise Quenneville, Project Management Lead at the Alexandria hospital. “It also helps families gain some control over what can be an otherwise chaotic life experience.” In addition to providing meeting room space, the hospital is offering participants free parking as well.
Family caregivers with a loved one suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar, clinical depression, borderline personality or other serious mental illnesses are asked to contact the support group at 613-527-1201. If there’s enough interest, a group might start as early as June.
For more information, call James Joyce at 613-5271201 or Louise Quenneville at (613) 525-2222, ext. 4112.