Mental health support groups are gatherings of individuals with shared issues. Support groups allow you to share your experiences, comfort others, offer support, and receive encouragement.
If you are experiencing mental health issues, your friends and family might sympathize with you, but that doesn’t mean they know what to say or how to help. Doctors can offer medical assistance but don’t typically provide emotional support. Support groups for mental health can fill this void. Support groups:
- Encourage people with similar circumstances or conditions to come together in a safe place
- Teach people how to cope
- Give people a chance to share experiences
- Provide a place to give and receive encouragement
What Kinds of Mental Health Support Groups Are There?
Many kinds of support groups are available today, in person and online. You might find family-led support groups, psychoeducation, or program-based support groups. One type is not better than the other. Any type of recovery group or support group you participate in can benefit your ongoing mental health.
Evidence confirms that online support groups can be as effective as in-person groups, so you have a lot of flexibility in terms of the modality.
Psychoeducational mental health support groups are designed to provide ongoing education. These groups can be designed for individuals struggling with mental health or the families and caregivers of those struggling with mental health disorders. These types of support groups can educate close family members about mental health disorders, how they can effectively help their loved ones, and what they should avoid.
Recovery Groups for Mental Health
Recovery groups for mental health can be educational or program-based support groups. These typically fall under the category of program-based because they are designed for individual mental health disorders. Someone struggling with bipolar disorder would attend different meetings than someone with anxiety.
However, these mental health support groups can occur in person or online, facilitated by a mental health professional or counselor. These group sessions allow people to receive ongoing support after completing some form of mental health treatment.
Peer support groups are a mental health resource that is often facilitated by peers and run by peers. These commonly take place online, although they can take place in person. They are usually not run by a medical professional or other licensed professional but by individuals struggling with the same mental health disorder. People looking for online support for depression or anxiety symptoms can benefit greatly from opportunities to discuss their feelings with others in a judgment-free space.
Do Support Groups for Mental Health Work?
One study confirmed that long-term participation in recovery groups for mental health led to consistently improved mental health, regardless of the type of support group. Strong evidence demonstrates that mental health support groups are effective for those with mental health disorders and their caregivers or families. These meetings give families and caregivers the following:
- Ongoing support
- Continuing education
- Education about how to support their loved ones
Another cross-sectional study found that participation in web-based support groups for mental health as an alternative for cultures or groups where getting help had a stigma proved effective at providing support for mental health conditions like depression. Ongoing research into internet mental health support groups has confirmed that it offers many benefits, such as:
- Accessibility, regardless of the time of day or geographical locations
- Anonymous participation for those who have social anxiety or live in a place with a heavy stigma of getting help
These groups, particularly when led by mental health professionals or moderated by a leader, improved quality of life and reduced symptoms of conditions like depression.
Even peer support proved effective, particularly during the pandemic, offering positive results for quality of life and symptom control.
Why Recovery Groups for Mental Health are Important
Recovery groups for mental health are important because they give you a safe place to talk about your experiences, circumstances, feelings, or symptoms without judgment or criticism. How you benefit are also ways in which you can help others benefit.
When dealing with a mental health disorder, you’ll have to overcome challenges and learn to cope in new ways. Support groups can give you access to coping skills from individuals who have successfully applied those skills. You might learn new tips on things like journaling or meditating and figure out ways to set healthy boundaries. Similarly, you might share things you picked up in other therapy sessions, online, or from a doctor, which has been successful in your life; those tips might help someone else in similar circumstances.
Support groups allow you to share things which can help reduce feelings of isolation. When other people share their stories, you can gain insight into how the people in your group have dealt with similar circumstances or trials, and perhaps the things you share can do the same for those around you.
Mental health support groups can give you ideas for improving mental and physical strength, focusing on self-care, and managing stress. Being around people who understand what you’re going through and have shared similar experiences can help boost your mood and give you a sense of hope when things might be overwhelming.
If you need help finding mental health support groups, contact Water Gap Wellness Center today.