NAMI Tennessee Toll-free Helpline (800) 467-3589
you can expect at a NAMI Support Group
Group: These two little words can create a mixed bag
of feelings. No one wants to need a support group. This need makes us feel
insufficient, dependent, vulnerable, raw, and exposed. Those words can also be used to instill HOPE. Since you’re reading this, it is likely that
the pain of caring for someone with a mental illness has become greater than
the fear of going to a support group.
Going to a support group
for the first time can cause a lot of anxiety:
I’m not going to know anyone there.
What if they ask me to talk? Will
they expect me to follow some kind of steps or get a sponsor? Let's see if we can answer some of your questions and help make your first NAMI meeting a little easier.
much does it cost to attend a NAMI support group meeting?
NAMI support group
meetings are free of any charge. We
don’t “pass a basket” or take up contributions.
Are all NAMI support groups alike?
Every NAMI support group has its own “personality” so they are all a little different. There’s also a lot they have in common.
There are three
different types of NAMI Support Group meetings.
Hope in Mind© (WHM) Groups are for family members
and friends of persons with or suspected of having mental illness. They are facilitated by specially trained family members who understand because they are care providers too.
BRIDGES© Groups (Building Recovery of Individual Dreams and Goals through Education and Support) provide support for persons
with mental illness. They are
facilitated by people with mental illness who are living in recovery.
- When it is a small group, family members and persons with mental illness combine to form a mixed group that is inclusive of anyone who attends.
Whenever and wherever it is possible, both family groups and groups for persons with mental illness meet at the same location at the same time but in different rooms. This type of peer-to-peer support is a NAMI fundamental.
Who will be there?
People who attend the With Hope in Mind meetings are often parents, spouses, siblings, significant others or adult children of persons with illnesses like Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Anxiety Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other serious persistent mental illnesses. People who attend BRIDGES meetings are persons who live with these same illnesses.
I have to let someone know I’m coming?
No. Pre-notice is not
required to come to a meeting. You can call
and speak with one of our Regional
Coordinators before attending a meeting.
The Regional Coordinator can put you in touch with someone who will be
at the meeting or possibly meet you there.
That way you will at least know a person’s voice or who to look for and
a little about them before you get to the meeting.
are NAMI support group meetings held?
Most support group
meetings are held in churches, community centers, healthcare provider offices,
or other public venues well known within the community.
will I know how to find the meeting?
There will be signs at
the location to let you know where in the building the meeting is held.
will great you and tell you a little about how the meeting is set up.
will ask you to put on a name tag just like they are wearing so no one has to
feel awkward about remembering or using wrong names.
will ask you to sign-in on a participant form.
The form asks for some basic information but you are not required to provide anything you don’t want to. The information you provide in support group stays
with your local group. Your information
will never be given or sold to any other party (including NAMI’s national and
Who leads the groups?
support groups are not led by mental health professionals nor are they group
therapy. They are “self-help” groups led
by specially trained volunteers who also care for someone with a mental
illness. They understand because they’ve
been there too. They are there to listen,
share resources, or to offer advice… but only if you request it. They are willing to share what they’ve
learned, what worked for them, and what didn’t.
What happens when the meeting begins?
meeting facilitators will introduce themselves to the group. Someone will read our focus statement
followed by the meeting
guidelines. Everyone in the room
will be offered an opportunity to briefly
introduce themselves to the group or decline.
After introductions, the facilitators will open the floor for discussion
or offer a topic for discussion.
Do I have to talk/tell my story?
No. Meeting Guideline #9 is: “Everyone is given the opportunity to speak as well as the right to
decline to speak.”
Why aren’t NAMI
support groups held more often?
All NAMI support groups are managed by
volunteers. They are held as frequently
as there are facilitators available to lead them. For urban areas that is more frequent, up to
twelve times a month, while our rural affiliates may only have one meeting a