Why You Need to Find Yourself a Support Group
In essence, a support group is a group of people with the same experience. These people come together intending to give each other emotional and moral support. Today, you will finda support group for just about any concern, health condition, or topic. Mental health issues addressed in these groups include anxiety, grief, eating disorders, borderline personality, bipolar disorder, depression, and substance abuse.
While professionals could be the leaders in some of these groups, most of them are led by peers. Support groups offer tremendous benefits, so you shouldn’t be overwhelmed by your situation. If you need help, it is best to reach out to family, friends, and even your doctor to help you enroll in such a group.
Finding a Support Group
You could get information on support groups from any of these sources:
- Your hospital
- Non-profit organizations that advocate for certain medical conditions or lifestyle changes
- Websites of National Institutes of Health
Important Questions to Ask Before Joining Support Groups
Now that you have decided to join a support group, you deserve to know everything that goes on inside there. This way, you will know whether it is a good move for you. This article rounded up some of the most important questions you should ask before being given membership in a support group:
- Is this group meant only for people with a specific medical condition?
- How often does the group meet?
- Where is the venue for meetings? Is it constant, or does it change?
- Is there a set time for the meetings?
- Does the group have a moderator or facilitator?
- Is the facilitator trained?
- Is there involvement of a mental health doctor?
- How much can I share? Am I assured of confidentiality?
- Are there ground rules governing group participation?
- How are the meetings like?
- Is this support group free, or am I expected to pay some fees?
You can ask as many questions as you want. While at it, look out for the following red flags:
- Very high fees
- Pressure to buy products or services
- A promise to cure your condition
What Do You Get From a Support Group?
You must be asking yourself now, “How do they help?” There are several benefits you get from joining a support group. They include:
- The Realization that you are not alone: Until their first group meeting, most people felt overwhelmed by their conditions and thought they were out there on their own. This feeling changes slowly as you open up more and share your experience and listen to other people talk about their own. By realizing that there are other people out there fighting similar battles or perhaps worse, you feel relieved and even count yourself lucky.
- You can express how you feel: At first, you may feel reluctant to share your story because you may fear that confidentiality might be breached. However, upon realizing that the people in the group have similar experiences, the discomfort slowly wears away, and you will be more comfortable talking about your circumstances. Talking about your problems to someone else is highly recommended by Dr. Talat Tayyaba, our psychiatrist in Richardson, because it is therapeutic. Besides, the other group members will not judge you but instead, praise you for being open and courageous.
- You Learn Helpful Information: When you join the support group, you will find that there are members who have had conditions similar to yours for your long time. They may share their success stories and tell you the strategies that helped them make some progress. The focus of some groups is on getting to learn and practice coping skills. It is also in these groups where you will get book and website recommendations.
- Improved Social Skills: Meeting and having conversations with group members builds up your social skills. According to our doctor atTexas Psychiatry Associates, one major contributing factor to addiction and mental illness is social withdrawal. Support groups help remedy this by providing a safe space for you to talk and listen to others.
Renewed Hope: It is encouraging to see people in your group that have made strides in their recovery journeys. These role models help you realize that recovery is indeed achievable, making you see some light at the end of the tunnel.