FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Support groups for family members of those with a serious mental illness are about to begin all over Fairfield County.
The groups offered by NAMI Southwest Connecticut are peer-led by trained facilitators and completely free, and unfortunately not widely known, according to Vice President Claudia DeVita.
"Everyone is a volunteer. We are tired of being the best-kept secret in town. One of our major challenges is outreach and networking (about) what we do, as it is so needed in this region," she told Daily Voice.
DeVita, who facilitates some of the groups, said her own family received help from NAMI Southwest CT. The local group is part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The organization provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness to those affected by mental illness.
"NAMI helped me so much during the time my family was in crisis that I really felt no other choice now that my life is stable than to help someone else."
The following support groups are offered:
Stamford: Beginning Feb. 1, first Wednesday of each month, 7-8:30 p.m., Tully Health Center, 32 Strawberry Hill Court, Conference Room B. Contact Barbara at 203-921-8530.
Norwalk: Beginning Feb. 7, first Tuesday of each month, 6:30-8 p.m., Norwalk Hospital, 34 Maple St., CP3 Conference Room. Contact Lucie at 203-855-3530.
Ridgefield: Beginning Feb. 9, second Thursday of each month, 6:30-8 p.m., Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church, 207 Main St. Contact Marc at 203- 940-2516.
New Canaan: Beginning Feb. 14, second Tuesday of each month, 7-8:30 p.m., Silver Hill Hospital, 208 Valley Road, E. Campus, Jurgenson Bldg., Room 1. Contact Lorraine at 203-858-1477.
Greenwich : Beginning Feb. 16, third Thursday of each month, 6:30-8 p.m., Greenwich Hospital, 5 Perryridge Road, Cafeteria Conference Room - Ground Level. Contact Claudia 203-428-6864.
Westport: Beginning Feb. 28, last Tuesday of each month, 6:30-8 p.m., St. Vincent's (Hall-Brooke) Behavioral Health Services, 47 Long Lots Road Board Room - Lower Level. Contact Jenna 203-286-4697.
In addition, there are support groups for parents and caregivers of children and adolescents (under 18) with behavioral, emotional and mental health concerns at the following:
Stamford: Beginning Feb. 22, fourth Wednesday of each month, 6-7:30 p.m., Tully Health Center, 32 Strawberry Hill Court, Conference Room B. Contact Lorraine at 203-858-1477.
Wilton : Beginning Feb. 27, fourth Monday of each month, 10-11:30 a.m., Gilbert & Bennett Cultural Arts Center, 49 New St., Georgetown. Contact Beth at 203-984-0123 or Vanessa at 203-970-4130
Those affected with mental illness may join a NAMI Connecticut Recovery Support group at:
Norwalk , Beginning Feb. 13, second and fourth Mondays of each month, 6-7:30 p.m., HSC Community Services Bldg., 1 Park St., First floor Conference Room. Contact Don at 860-882-0236.
To contact NAMI Southwest CT, call 203-388-1603 or email here.
Newcomers are welcome at support groups.