2 VNA groups begin Monday for those seeking comfort

If you go

What: Peer support group for people with bipolar disorder and depression

When: Noon to 1 p.m., first and third Mondays of the month

Where: Gold Room at the Northwestern Colorado Community Health Center, 745 Russell St.

Contact: Barb Parnell at 871-7655

If you go

What: Women's grief support group

When: 4:30 p.m. Mondays

Where: Northwestern Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, 745 Russell St.

Contact: Sandy Beran at 871-7682

A peer support group for people with bipolar disorder and depression had its first meeting Monday, attracting three visitors.

However, organizers are optimistic that small gathering eventually could expand.

"We're hoping it grows," said Barb Parnell, community health educator for the Northwestern Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. "It offers a chance for people to come and talk about bipolar and depression."

Parnell said the support group fills a need in the community, and eventually, the VNA would like to see more involvement.

"Hopefully, one day it will be peer-run," Parnell said. "And we might branch out to family members."

Parnell said the group, which borrowed its structure from a similar program in Steamboat Springs, could include speakers and educational seminars in the future.

Rochelle Johnson, a local woman who suffers from bipolar disorder, spearheaded Monday's group.

The support group will meet from noon to 1 p.m., on the first and third Mondays of the month in the Gold Room at the Northwest Colorado Community Health Center, 745 Russell St.

The bipolar/depression group wasn't the VNA's only offering Monday.

A new women's grief support group launched Monday, however, it had little participation.

The next meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Monday at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, which is located in the same building as the Community Health Center.

Sandy Beran, spiritual care coordinator, said the VNA has grief support sessions three times a year.

During the first meeting, participants will have a chance to tell their stories, Beran said, before moving on to other subjects.

Those subjects include building a memorial, discussing the stages of grief, letter writing and the importance of keeping a journal.

"We will also be discussing milestones," Beran said. "It's important to develop a plan for the future, and to set up milestones to make it more doable."

The group meets for an hour every Monday. On Nov. 16, it is scheduled to host a special meeting centering on the holidays.

"The holidays can be hard on someone who has lost a loved one," Beran said. "We will be discussing how to be prepared for the holidays, because having a plan is important."

Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 875-1795 or bbulkeley@craigdailypress.com.

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