the importance of support groups 

Support groups are a valuable tool for anyone dealing with an emotional crisis or mental or behavioral health condition. Family and friends also benefit from support groups by learning about the challenges faced by the individual and find effective means of supporting their loved one. Many caregivers need support themselves in order to care for themselves while caring for someone else. Support groups are an opportunity for anyone to center themselves and receive positive feedback and suggestions from those who have successfully met the same challenges.

Dealing with a mental health diagnosis can be an arduous task. It often takes time for a person to fully understand the illness themselves and expressing their feelings about it can be downright frustrating. The relief of learning that you are not uniquely alone or at fault is what makes support groups so powerful. Seeking help is how we advocate for ourselves and is the most important part of recovery for gaining mastery over an illness. Many people come to a thorough understanding of the symptoms associated with their diagnosis and learn to avoid circumstances that may trigger intense feelings and symptoms. This is a common pattern for those with anxiety disorder and addiction. 

Regular attendees that have contended with similar issues often become valuable contributors to the group. They can be particularly effective in helping the newcomer by sharing their knowledge, and experience with the emotional and systematic process of gaining control over an overwhelming situation or diagnosis. This often results in a plan of action for the individual in which a solution is expedited. It is important to attend a group and evaluate its format to decide if the group is right for you. If it does not appear to be a group that is beneficial, simply move on to another until you find a comfortable environment.

You can contact State Municipalities for information on support groups in your area. Support groups are commonly listed on local government websites.

These are two websites that may help:

Deciding what group is best, depends on the type of situation an individual is facing. If you are experiencing medical issues, then a group run by a medical professional may be effective. However, a peer-run group may also prove beneficial for additional information that is often shared by others who are further along in treatment.

If you are dealing with a mental or behavioral health issue and under a doctor’s care or still able to function effectively, then a peer-run group may be the answer. Although medications are a valuable tool for maintaining stability, there are other recovery tools that should be learned and implemented to help ensure a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Think about the type of support you need. In some cases, individuals may need answers to questions about their issues, other’s may need connections to services, or simply vent and receive feedback concerning a healthy perspective regarding a diagnosis and/or problem. 

Encouragement is a key factor in overcoming difficulties and is commonly found in a group environment. It is a reminder that there are options and possibilities beyond the blunt reality effecting us at that moment. Reminding someone that they have the strength and ability to overcome obstacles can lift a person’s spirits enough to help them overcome a problematic situation and eventually move on to a happy life. Simply encouraging someone to continue with their recovery process is the essence of healing.

Support groups have been found to be as effective in dealing with mental and behavioral health conditions as individual therapy. They are also cost-effective for those with financial hardship. Many groups are free or offer a sliding scale payment method. If you are unable to travel to a group, keep in mind that groups are held on social media such as Facebook and online networks.

It is important to reach out. There is no weakness or shame in asking for help. Some of the most successful people around us have faced and overcome great challenges by reaching out for help.

View this article at to learn about celebrities that have shared their mental health issues publicly and their suggestions for dealing with a diagnosis or traumatic incident.

9Muses support groups are free. You do not need a diagnosis to attend. All are welcome. View our Calendar for times.


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