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Responding to Need, NAMI CT Starts Support Group in Wilton

Support group for families with children with mental illnesses opens up in Wilton/Georgetown in July.

Photo from the annual NAMI Walks. Patch File Photo
Photo from the annual NAMI Walks. Patch File Photo
Parenting is a tough fulltime job regardless of the other ‘jobs’ we need to take on. NAMI-CAN (National Alliance on Mental Illness Child and Adolescent Network Support Group) for parents and primary caregivers of children with behavioral, emotional and mental health issues. These groups are free to the public, confidential, and led by trained and certified volunteer facilitators who themselves have had personal experiences raising children with these concerns.

In direct response to requests by parents and families in the Wilton, Weston, Redding, Ridgefield and surrounding areas, NAMI-CAN is coming to Georgetown/Wilton.

The first meeting will be Monday, July 28, and thereafter on the fourth Monday of every month from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in G & B Cultural Center (49 New St., Wilton).

Mental illness is not something parents want to consider as even a remote possibility, much less a reality with young children. However, sometimes the symptoms, behaviors, and information from the children themselves make adults keenly aware that something is dreadfully awry.

"What we now know is that the earlier signs and symptoms of mental health issues are identified in a child or adolescent, and the sooner intervention occurs, the better the prognosis is for an individual," according to Kate Mattias, Executive Director NAMI Connecticut. 

“My son exhibited suicidal ideation at age five, telling us that he wanted to die. He had severe tantrums and meltdowns lasting for hours,” said Dawn Schneider, who was instrumental in bringing NAMI-CAN to Fairfield County and co-leads two groups with Lorraine Zegibe in Stamford.
 
“My son was 3 years old when his preschool informed us that they were concerned,” Zegibe said. “Initially they suspected hearing problems because he was unaware of things around him and would wander off. When he was 5 years old, he was diagnosed with depression. He was 7 years old when he told me, ‘Mommy I hear people talking to me. People tell me to do bad things.’”

Initially he was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 with psychotic features and later as schizoaffective.

When Zegibe was asked, ‘What made you commit to being trained as a NAMI support group leader and educator?’ she responded, “At the time the training was offered, NAMI was helping me and my family through a major crisis and I felt it was time for me to become educated and give back.”

NAMI-CAN support groups reassure parents and family members that they are not alone. Sitting in a room, surrounded by other parents, going through similar experiences, and who understand, firsthand, from their own experiences and are there to support you, enables you to regain a sense of power and ability to manage the situation.

“Besides the NAMI-CAN support group, we offer a Basics 6-week class, starting in the fall, free for parents, where you can learn how to keep good records,” Schneider said, “Which are very helpful to have when dealing with doctors and schools.”

NAMI-CAN begins in Wilton on July 28. All are welcome to attend.

Based off a release from NAMI-CAN Connecticut.

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