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Boscobel couple organizes mental health support group
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It is becoming more and more common in our area to run across someone who is suffering from a mental illness, whether it is depression, anxiety disorder, panic attacks or a personality disorder—leaving people to feel like they have no one to turn to. Well, Boscobel residents Chris and Ashley Finnell would like to give people who either have a mental illness or know someone who does a place to come and communicate with others.

“We feel this will be a huge asset to our community and of course it is open to more than just Boscobel,” Chris said.

According to a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study, “One in four adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year.”

Starting Friday, March 7 the new Mental Health Support Group will be having its first meeting starting at 7 p.m. at Boscobel Gundersen Hospital. The group is free to everyone who attends. Guests are asked to enter through the emergency room doors and then follow the signs to the meeting.

“I must stress that we are not a counseling session, a therapy group, or any alternative to seeing a doctor,” Chris said. “We are those who struggle with this and are there to lend support and a listening ear.”

The first night of the group will be more of a meet and greet, as well as a chance for people who attend to give their ideas on what they would like to see be worked on during their time at the meetings. Guests will also be welcome to give ideas about possible fundraisers in the near future. It will be asked of the guests who attend the meeting to keep what is said in the meeting private, as the support group’s confidentiality is to be held to a high regard.

After the group’s first night, they will continue to meet every second and fourth Friday of every month starting at 7 p.m. at the Boscobel Gundersen Hospital. The meetings will be facilitated by Chris’ wife, Ashley, until a board of directors is developed out of the group members in attendance.

“The board of directors will change to give everyone a chance to have a voice,” Chris said.

Chris and his wife came up with the idea of starting a mental health support group here after attending some meetings in Platteville, which are also open to the public and are affiliated with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

“The Platteville group is supposed to cover all of Grant, Iowa and Crawford counties, but we feel that is unrealistic,” Chris said. “We wanted to bring it closer and actually give Crawford County a closer group to attend.”

Working with NAMI

Chris and Ashley are currently working with NAMI out of Madison in hopes of becoming an affiliation of the NAMI group after a couple of years. If the group were to become members with NAMI, there would be educational courses available to the guests that attend the meeting as well as a chance to receive helpful fliers.

Some of the educational courses that would be possible include a family-to-family program, family support group, peer support group, etc.

“The educational programs are to encourage people to learn more about their illnesses and what they can do to help themselves,” Chris said.

During the affiliation process Chris and Ashley would appreciate support from the community and donations to help get the group started. If you send them an e-mail with a donation, they can add you to their monthly newsletter, allowing you to keep up with what is going on with the process as well as educational articles. If interested in donating send a letter to:

Mental Health Support Group

Attn: Chris Finnell

1307 Church Street

Boscobel, WI 53805

Outside of starting the Mental Illness Health Support Group, Chris is the director of the Boscobel Animal Rescue Klub (BARK). He has been working with Bark for about four years. His wife Ashley is currently attending school at Upper Iowa  University for Human Services.