Person who makes a difference: Dubuque man helps peers navigate mental health struggles | Tri-state News

Person who makes a difference: Dubuque man helps peers navigate mental health struggles | Tri-state News

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Daryl Bruflodt now leads the same programs that helped him through his journey with mental health struggles.

For more than five years, the Dubuque resident has helped lead a Connection Support Group and Peer-to-Peer recovery education course through the Dubuque chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“I feel like it’s a chance for me to help people get to a place where I’m at, where I feel like I have a good understanding of my mental health and how to cope with it,” he said.

Bruflodt’s experience with NAMI began close to 10 years ago, when he started attending the support group and peer-to-peer course to manage his own mental health struggles.

Now, he volunteers as a peer support group instructor with the organization. He leads the support group every other week and teaches the eight-week course to help participants learn to manage their mental health.

Bruflodt also has helped lead an effort to put together NAMI recovery bags for people who have recently experienced a crisis. The bags include items such as essential oils, note pads with writing prompts and information about local resources.

NAMI Dubuque President Britni Farber said Bruflodt was eager to move forward with the recovery bags and that he put a lot of thought and time into the effort.

“I feel very lucky to have (Bruflodt) — he’s helped a lot,” Farber said. “I never want him to leave.”

David Pelton attends the support group led by Bruflodt. Pelton said he relies on and enjoys sticking to a schedule, and Bruflodt has been part of that schedule for more than a year.

“He goes person by person, no matter the time, to really listen to them,” Pelton said. “Then we have a group discussion to come up with advice.”

Pelton said he can talk openly with Bruflodt about how he feels because they have both dealt with mental health struggles.

“I can always call him if I need to and just be able to confide in him,” Pelton said. “I can leave a message, and he’ll call me back.”

Wanda Dossey attends Bruflodt’s support group and has taken the recovery course with him. She said his gentle spirit and laid-back nature make him approachable and that he acknowledges all feelings without judgment.

“He knows the struggle is very real,” Dossey said. “His commitment, knowledge and hopefulness enhance the quality of my life and help me return to what I want to do.”

Combating the stigma surrounding mental health is a key motivation behind Brufoldt’s work with NAMI, he said.

“People with mental health conditions are just people like anybody else,” he said. “They struggle from time to time, and deserve a chance to succeed like anybody else.”

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