BUCKHANNON – Encouragement, confidentiality and support is exactly what people struggling with mood disorders are often searching for – and luckily, they will find at a new event hosted by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of West Virginia.
DBSA-WV has organized a daily event scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday through Friday at the agency’s headquarters, 61 Marion St., in Buckhannon. Brown Bag by the Bridge – which launched Feb. 20 – is designed to mirror a coffee shop experience wherein people affected by mood disorders can confer with their peers in a safe, secure and supportive environment, according to DBSA-WV executive director, Diana Thompson. Individuals who would like to attend are encouraged to bring their lunch – in a brown bag, if they wish – and enjoy free coffee and bottled water while sharing their struggles, as well as ways to get well.
Volunteer program director Erica Rusmisell, a licensed social worker, will be the facilitator of the group, and plenty of literature on all kinds of mental health illnesses will be available for pick-up.
Rusmisell said she got involved with DBSA-WV when she was living in Morgantown and searching for a support group herself. When she found there wasn’t one, she contacted Thompson and started her own. When she moved back to Buckhannon, Rusmisell again sought out Thompson to see if there was any way she could get involved with the local DBSA-WV group in Upshur County, which meets the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m.
Thompson had the perfect volunteer position for Rusmisell.
Rusmisell says the Brown Bag by the Bridge program is an important resource to promote mental health locally.
“It’s a safe place to find support and talk with people who have similar problems,” Rusmisell said. “It’s less formal. Often, the formality of therapy can be a little overwhelming. It’s casual here and that can be a little more inviting than therapy. Plus, we’re really lacking in services for mental health. We need more diversity instead of just psychiatrists and therapists.”
Thompson said attendees need not worry about stigma when they show up.
“It’s a place where people won’t judge you, and it’s important for people to know that what’s said here stays here,” Thompson emphasized.
Too often, mental health conditions are brushed off as not as serious as physical health conditions by those who haven’t experienced them first-hand, Rusmisell said.
“Unfortunately, mental health problems are just as serious as physical health problems, so this just provides a safe place to confide in other people,” Rusmisell said.
For more information, please contact Rusmisell at 304-516-3369 or [email protected] Contact Thompson by telephone at 304-472-1947. Brown Bag by the Bridge will be canceled on days Upshur County Schools are closed.