Donya Currie is the editor of The Free Lance-Star's Healthy Life section and Healthy Life Virginia newsletter.

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Turning pain into progress

Starting tomorrow, people struggling with mental illnesses can get support, encouragement and information at Stafford Hospital during weekly gatherings of the Connection Recovery Support Group.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness sponsors  Connection Recovery groups nationwide, and the new Stafford group will meet Wednesdays at 5 p.m. in the hospital’s conference room 4.

The gatherings will be guided by NAMI-trained facilitators who have struggled with mental illnesses themselves but “are at a point in recovery where they want to ‘give back’ to others. They understand the daily challenges and offer encouragement and support,” says a press release.

At group meetings, people can share their struggles, successes and coping strategies in a confidential setting. The goal is to “help turn problems and pain into personal empowerment and progress towards recovery,”  certified facilitator Karen Kallay said in an email.

On its website,, NAMI promotes Connection Recovery groups as places where people struggling with bipolar disorder, panic disorder and many other mental health challenges can “talk to someone who understands … someone just like you.”

For more information, contact Kallay at or at 540/373-1744. Or, for details about this or other mental health services in the area, contact Mental Health America of Fredericksburg at 540/371-2704 or