Friday August 23, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- The Vermont chapter of The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Brattleboro Retreat will collaborate to establish a NAMI Connection Support Group designed to help psychiatric inpatients make a successful transition from hospital-level care to community-based support.

The goal of the program is to bring at least eight trained support group facilitators to the Retreat’s inpatient hospital units to lead weekly recovery support groups for men and women dealing with psychiatric challenges. Evidence indicates that participants who attend NAMI Connection Support Group meetings while in the hospital are more likely to attend community-based support groups following discharge.

Meetings are designed to help patients learn from one another’s experiences, share coping strategies, and provide mutual encouragement and understanding.

"Patients learn to feel comfortable sharing and talking to peers and others about what they’re going through," said Gwynn Yandow, director of Social Work Services at the Brattleboro Retreat. "They can also begin to gather information about resources they can expect to find in the community when they leave the hospital."

NAMI Vermont programs are funded in part through a grant with the Vermont Department of Mental Health. This funding currently provides support for eight Connection Support Groups that meet throughout the state.


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All Connections Support Groups are led by facilitators that go through a vigorous NAMI training, part of which is also funded by the Department of Mental Health.

In addition to this partnership, the Retreat is also a sponsor of NAMIWalk Vermont (Sept. 21 in Burlington), a mental health outreach event and NAMI Vermont’s largest fundraiser.