A mental health support group founded in January has received such a positive response that participants have decided to increase the frequency of meetings from monthly to weekly. Beaches Mental Wellness will meet Tuesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. at Community Centre 55.
The group was started by Upper Beach resident Jason Balgopal who, while wresting with depression for many years, also struggled to find a support network in the neighbourhood.
“When I was in the depth of my suffering, I didn’t see anything in the area that I could go to and get support from, like a peer to peer support network,” he said.
Balgopal decided to start a group on his own, and its launch coincided with the Bell Canada Let’s Talk campaign in January. So far, the group has been averaging about 10 participants at each meeting, dealing with a variety of mental health challenges, such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and others. People supporting loved ones with mental health issues will also find support there.
“The group is not restricted to any particular type of affliction and certainly all people who are affected by a mental health challenge, or supporting others who are, are welcome,” he said.
The format is similar to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, Balgopal explained, in the sense that it is a sharing session where people can, if they choose, describe what’s happening to them and what challenges they are facing.
“Everything that’s said there is confidential and nobody has to speak if they don’t want to,” he said. “They can just sit and listen.”
Guest speakers cover such topics as symptoms and treatment options for depression, cognitive behaviour therapy, and accessing social services.