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Support group focuses on mental health
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North Crawford graduates came together to form a support group for local residents with mental illness.

Husband and wife team Christopher and Ashley Finnell will be hosting a Mental Health Support Group, starting March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Gundersen Boscobel Area Health Care. In an effort to supplement those in the area with mental health issues, who may lack a support system in addition to their regular treatment they receive.

“We’re not a treatment center, we’re not therapists…we’re just an open ear and support net to be there to help people going through mental illness,” Christopher noted.

The Finnells had been attending a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) support group in Platteville for sometime before getting the idea to start something a little more locally, helping to make it more accessible to people, especially in Richland County where there is no NAMI coverage. There is also hope for the group to join NAMI officially.

One simple call to the Gundersen Boscobel Area Health Care was all it took for Christopher to get the ball rolling on the project.

“The hospital was very welcoming to us, they have allowed us to use one of their conference rooms for free and have been very supportive,” said Christopher.

Mental illness is defined by NAMI as a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. 

“Mental illness can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing,” noted a statement on the NAMI website.  Finnell also stressed this point as well, pointing out many people live with mental illness or receive treatment, but do not get supplemental support because of the stigma associated with it. The group is trying to crush those stigmas, by offering a welcoming and safe environment for people to come and share their stories with others to keep them going on the path to wellness.

The group will meet the second and fourth Friday of every month at 7 p.m. The meetings will be held at the Gundersen Boscobel Area Healthcare. Interested participants can find it by going into the hospital emergency room and checking in at the desk, where you will receive directions to the conference room.  Coffee, homemade cookies and orange juice will be available at the meeting as well. 

Finnell also stressed that the meeting is free for everyone and always will be.