Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of Upshur County on the hunt for a new home, drop-in center

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Denise Westfall, treasurer of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Upshur County, and Andi Cartier, volunteer director of the DBSA Upshur County, said the DBSA West Virginia State Office has moved from Buckhannon, but the group is still active in Upshur County. Currently, they are having meetings on the second and fourth Mondays at 6:30 p.m. at the Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. DBSA Upshur County is seeking a new location for their office and drop-in center that is centrally located in Buckhannon and is searching for support for their group until grant funding can be secured.

BUCKHANNON – The state office of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of West Virginia, formerly located on Marion Street in Buckhannon, has relocated.

That’s resulted in the closure of DBSA of West Virginia’s grant-funded drop-in center in Buckhannon as of the end of October of this year.

Although the state office has moved, the local chapter, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of Upshur County, is still helping local folks, and it’s looking for some help to find a new home as well.

DBSA Upshur County Volunteer Director Andi Cartier said DBSA Upshur County is thankful the group has secured the support of the Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in providing a place for their monthly Peer Support Groups. However, the group is searching for a centrally-located space where they can reopen their drop-in center.

Currently, meetings at Chapel Hill UMC are at 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of the month and those wishing to attend can just drop into the meetings. Chapel Hill UMC is located at 88 S. Kanawha St. in Buckhannon.

Cartier said the ‘Brown Bag by the Bridge’ hosted in the Marion Street office used to provide daily walk-in times Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. where folks could drop in, even during their lunchtime from work, to visit with their peers in a safe and supportive environment that mirrored a coffee shop.

She said DBSA Upshur County additionally is seeking interim funding for their basic administrative and service costs, resource materials and more. Although the group is currently working on grants, the process is lengthy, Cartier said, so group leaders are seeking community support through civic groups, organizations, businesses and private citizens as well.

“DBSA provides support meetings where people with depression or bipolar disorders and those who care about them can share experiences, discuss coping skills and offer hope to one another,” Cartier said. “Free literature on all kinds of mental health illnesses is available for people to pick up, including information specifically focused on teens, men and women and information designed for family members and caregivers.”

The meetings at Chapel Hill UMC are for folks who are struggling with mental illness and people who have friends or family members struggling with mental illnesses.

“It is peer-run – we operate as peers – we are not counselors or therapists,” Cartier said. “I am a facilitator and we have guidelines – our meetings and what folks say is confidential and participants do not need to worry about stigma when they show up. Meetings are a place where people do not judge one another, and it is important for people to know that what is said during the meetings stays there.”

“The space we are searching for does not have to be large, but it should be centrally located,” Cartier said. “At a minimum we just need one decent-sized room where we can make it homey and comfortable with some tables and chairs as well as room for literature and a coffee pot. It needs to have a restroom and needs to be ADA-compliant. We would like it to be visible so people can see it and drop in.”

Cartier said even though the group is named after depression and bipolar, they offer literature on all kinds of illnesses including PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), autism, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) schizophrenia, social anxiety disorders, as well as literature directed toward teens, children and adults.

“We want to have a place, even if they don’t want to stay and talk, or if they are just picking up literature for a friend, where they can come and pick up literature and get what they need,” Cartier said.

Cartier shared statistical information about mental illness saying one in five people in the U.S. over age 18 is living with a mental illness and about one-fourth of these people are living with a serious mental illness. The incidence for young adults age 18 to 25 is one in four and about 3 million adults are living with the dual diagnosis of a mental illness and a substance use disorder.

She said the winter months and the holiday season often are especially difficult for people, especially those struggling to deal with life events and challenges. During this time, people living with a mental illness may find that symptoms of depression and a sense of aloneness are starting to overwhelm them.

Additional information is available by contacting Cartier by emailing dbsaupshurcounty@outlook.org, on Facebook or by calling 304-613-0064. To read more about DBSA-WV, click here.