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NAMI York-Adams Counties offers virtual groups for mental health support | Health Smart

FOX43 talked to two of the meeting facilitators who live with bipolar disorder to find out how they are using their diagnoses to help others feel less alone.

YORK, Pa. — NAMI of York and Adams Counties is a nonprofit organization that provides community support, education, and advocacy to anyone affected by mental illness. FOX43 talked with two men who volunteer there, who are using their bi-polar diagnosis to help others.  

Ken Knepper was 28-years-old when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

"I didn't know what bipolar was back then," he told FOX43's Amy Lutz. So he started studying and trying to understand what the diagnosis really meant. What he found, surprised him.

"It's something that you can live with," Knepper said. "My greatest accomplishments are because of being bipolar. But you have to understand it, educate yourself, and understand that the medicine won't fix everything, you have to do your part."

For him, that meant finding NAMI of York/Adams Counties where he attended their weekly support group meetings. He even went on to become a group facilitator last year. COVID-19 forced the weekly in-person meetings online, but it definitely didn't stop them.   

"It's another way for me to give back. It's not therapy, so we just kind of moderate the meeting," Knepper explained. 

Ken Kisselman also lives with bipolar disorder. 

"My normal is a little bit lower from everyone else's normal," Kisselman said. "And it takes a little more to make me happy, than it does for other people." He first heard about NAMI's support group while hospitalized after what he calls a mental breakdown. 

"NAMI has been a big help for me; it's been an excellent supplement to therapy and psychiatry and the other mechanisms out there," he said. 

He said the best part about the non-profit can be described with just one word: community. 

"Listening to other people share their experiences, you realize that you're not alone," Kisselman said. "There are other people struggling with schizophrenia, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder and so forth so we all have our own set of issues, but the community that comes from that I think is a great support to all of us."

Knepper agrees.

"The whole organization is as important for me as taking my medicine," Knepper said about NAMI.

Both men say they wish more people would understand that a mental health diagnosis does not necessarily limit you. 

"It's a component of who I am and understanding how to deal with it helps me to be a better, more rounded person," Kisselman said. 

"At the age of 54, I have realized that all of my greatest achievements would not have been possible without my bipolar," Knepper said.

If you are interesting in finding out more about the community support groups, NAMI of York and Adams Counties is located here:

140 Roosevelt Avenue # 105
York, PA 17401 

Their office is currently open, but because of COVID-19, you'll need to call and make an appointment. You can also call 717-848-3784 or email info@namiyorkadams.org.

Download the FOX43 app here.