This article is written in collaboration with Naluri.
Struggling and going through difficult times in your life can be challenging especially when you are dealing with it alone. The pressure of being alone and misunderstood by others can also significantly contribute to stress. Whether you are going through difficult times or you are caring for someone who are struggling mentally or physically, a support group can definitely help.
A support group bring together people who are going through or have gone through similar experiences (death of a loved one, care giving, chronic illness, addiction) by providing an opportunity for group members to share personal experiences, feelings and coping strategies. It provides mutual emotional and health support for each participants through the others firsthand experiences.
Support group may be provided by hospitals, clinic, psychological centres and non profit organisations. It is not the same as a group therapy. Group therapy targets specific mental health treatment and is facilitated by a trained mental health professional. Support group, on the other hand, may either be facilitated by a member of the group, medical doctor, mental health professional, nurse or social worker. Some support group meeting invited speaker / facilitator to discuss over certain topic and provide further education. The benefits of support group include:
1. Creating a sense of belonging
Through support group, the participants will no longer feel lonely as they realised that they are not the only one struggling. It helps them to manage their stress and reduce the risk of depression. It reduces the anxiety in dealing with their current difficulty by understanding and realising that there are other people who are struggling with something similar and are there to help them to walk through it.
2. Feel safe to open up
Participants in support group will less likely to feel judged and isolated from others as they are all in the same boat. Knowing that everyone in the group has the same goal, they will be able to express themselves openly and feel comfortable sharing their experiences.
3. Empowering participants
Knowing that you have ways to control your struggle can change your situation tremendously. So does the ability to be yourself during the group session, without hesitating and worried on how others will perceive you. Encouragement and support from group members will also help in empowering participants.
4. Sharing and learning from others
Listening to others help you to know what to do and what to expect to cope with your current situation. You will also gain an insight on practical advice and tips about treatment options. This also includes coping skills, useful books and other resources to help manage your condition.
5. Improve social skills
Support group is also a valuable venue to practice and improve your social skills. Most importantly on how to react and communicate with others. Oftentimes, one tend to withdraw from others and be very awkward in social settings during difficult times. Hence this should be a chance to reconnect with the world.
6. Igniting hope
Participating in a support group help to reduce the risk of fatigue and giving up. By learning from other people’s experiences and success stories, you will be a able to fuel your own strength. Not only that you it will ignite the spark of hope, you yourself can inspire others through positive and encouraging words. The more you express yourself and listen to other people’s stories, the more you will also learn about yourself and your strengths and weaknesses.
7. Cost effective
Group sessions are more affordable compared to individual sessions. In fact, some organisations offer free group sessions for those in need.
Knowing that you are not alone in your struggles make things easier to bear. When you are alone, expressing yourself will be difficult, you feel vulnerable and this often times make you misunderstood by others. As a result you may distance yourself, causing your condition to deteriorate. Hence, know that you are not alone, seek out help and support before it’s too late.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Naluri – Pioneering next generation digital therapeutics combining behavioural science, data science and digital design to build the mental resilience needed to achieve your goals and overcome life’s challenges that stand in your way.
Review Date: October 19, 2018 | Last Modified: October 19, 2018
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Safety net recovery (2016). Peer support is beneficial for recovery : https://www.safetynetrecovery.com/peer-support-beneficial-recovery/