The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance operates out of an unassuming building on Marion Street in Buckhannon, but from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every weekday it provides a direct service to people it is community, operating Brown Bag by the Bridge.
The event opens the building for three hours and invites people to bring their lunch and get help from peer counselors dealing with a mental illness.
“We’re here to be support. We are people who know what it’s like to live with depression, to live with mania, to live with anxiety. We know what it’s like to be in recovery from an addiction to various different things,” said Diana Thompson, executive director of the DBSA.
Part of that support is connecting people with someone who’s been in a similar situation, and the DBSA works to do that for everyone who comes in. And the peer counselors who are present each day hope to make the environment a welcoming one.
“Unfortunately there is still a stigma with mental illness, and so some people are just afraid to be like, ‘I do have this, I am struggling with this, too,'” said Peer Support Specialist Erica Rusmisell.
Brown Bag by the Bridge isn’t meant to replace treatment by a doctor or the medications they might prescribe. But Rusmisell said they can go a long way to helping people cope, and wants those who they can help to know they aren’t the only ones dealing with those issues.
“There are so many people struggling from the same sort of problems, and so I just want them to know that they aren’t alone, and there are people that understand, and there are people there out there to help them. And that’s why we’re there,” said Rusmisell.