Mental Health Support Groups | Overview & Benefits
If you live with a mental health condition, you may benefit from a support group. Available in-person or online, support groups allow you to connect with people facing similar challenges. There are also support groups for family members and caregivers of those with mental illness.
When you struggle with your mental health, it’s normal to feel alone. However, almost one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness, meaning many people understand your pain.
You can connect with some of them by attending a support group. Because support groups provide numerous benefits, Ohio Recovery Center offers them for all mental health treatment plans.
What Are Mental Health Support Groups?
Mental health support groups are small groups of people who all face similar mental health concerns.
Led by trained support group facilitators, the groups encourage you to discuss your mental health experiences, including symptoms, coping skills, and the highs and lows of daily life.
You can find support groups for a wide variety of mental health conditions at our inpatient facility, including:
- major depressive disorder (also known as depression)
- anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- bipolar disorder
- borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
There are also support groups for family members and caregivers of people with mental health conditions. These groups can teach you how to best help your loved one thrive.
In addition, they give you a chance to discuss common caregiver issues (such as stress and burnout) and how to cope with them.
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Online & In-Person
Some support groups meet in-person, while others meet online.
Many online support groups meet via video chat platforms such as Zoom, though a few meet by text chat or phone. Most video chat groups will let you turn off your camera if you prefer.
Also, whether you attend an online or in-person support group, you will never be forced to share unless you feel comfortable doing so.
Not all support groups are the same. In some cases, you might have to visit multiple groups before you find the one that meets your needs.
Benefits Of Mental Health Support Groups
People who attend mental health support groups experience multiple benefits, including:
A Lack Of Stigma
Many people with mental health conditions feel isolated and like no one understands them. These feelings often stem from stigma. Stigma refers to judgment and discrimination based on a personal quality, such as an illness.
For example, people with depression or anxiety may be judged as weak, while people with more severe illnesses (such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or borderline personality disorder) may be judged as crazy or evil.
A fear of these judgments may prevent you from opening up about your mental health experiences. The resulting sense of shame and isolation can make your mental health even worse.
Luckily, support groups give you an opportunity to express yourself in a supportive, stigma-free environment. This self-expression can play an essential role in strengthening your mental health.
It can be especially important for people who experience multiple types of stigma, such as those in the LGBTQ+ community or those who battle substance abuse.
A Sense Of Community
When recovering from any health condition, you need an emotional support system. Unfortunately, because some people have never experienced mental health issues, you may struggle to find support and understanding among your family and friends.
In a mental health support group, you’ll get encouragement and compassion from people with similar experiences. You may even develop close friends who will support your mental health journey for years to come.
Moreover, you’ll have the chance to support other group members on their own journeys. Helping others gives you a sense of purpose and boosts your self-esteem. This increased confidence can further improve your mental well-being.
A Chance To Learn More Coping Skills
Along with sharing their personal experiences, people in support groups also discuss how to cope with mental health challenges. Learning how others cope can significantly improve your own mental health.
If someone mentions a coping skill you haven’t heard of, try it out yourself. While not all coping skills work for everyone, it’s helpful to experiment. In general, the more coping skills you have, the better your mental health.
Also, if you love someone with a mental illness, a family support group can help you cope with the challenges of caring for them.
For example, you might realize that you need to rest more often or spend more time with friends. When you take care of yourself, it’s much easier to take care of someone else.
When you live with a mental health condition, many people will recommend that you attend therapy. Indeed, therapy can give the tools you need to manage your symptoms and achieve your goals.
However, it’s often expensive, even with insurance. If you can’t afford therapy, a support group can put you on the path to better mental health without costing a fortune.
Even those who can afford therapy sometimes have trouble accessing it. That’s because many therapists already see too many clients, forcing them to place you on a waitlist. In some cases, you may stay on the waitlist for months or even years.
Fortunately, most support groups don’t have waitlists, making them far more accessible. Also, if you choose an online group, you won’t have to worry about transportation or childcare.
To learn more about support groups and other mental health treatments at our facility, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our board-certified mental health care providers offer personalized, evidence-based care to help you or your loved one build a fulfilling life.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — About Mental Health https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Resources for Families Coping with Mental and Substance Use Disorders https://webarchive.library.unt.edu/web/20201218044325/https://www.samhsa.gov/families
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs — Peer Support Groups https://www.ptsd.va.gov/gethelp/peer_support.asp