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Support groups are an informal method of supporting a variety of problems and challenges. Informal support outside of family, friends, or professionals provides understanding and opportunity for empathy and altruism. We tend to learn new methods to handle challenges, coping with changes, and maintaining new behaviours as a result of being in a support group. In a support group, mutual support and information exchange are unique characteristics that individuals may learn. The individual in the support group may have a similar experience in their life. It provides individuals to share their personal experiences and coping strategies for their problems. Support groups provide emotional support for health-related problems.

Are there differences in support groups?

There are various kinds of support groups existing based on various kinds of problems

  • The bereavement/grief support groups: Bereavement and grief support groups provide emotional support for those who have faced loss. This support group tends to provide information about how one handled during the loss and their methods of coping patterns during the loss

  • The medical support groups: Medical support groups are based on the disease or the disorder. It helps individuals overcome grief or trauma. This group is shorter in the period. For instance, a support group for cancer helps an individual to understand that many experience similar trauma, and they may also learn the methods of accepting the trauma

  • Weight-loss support groups: These groups are specific in their focus, but their structures may vary. Some weight loss support groups are involved in losing weight, including monitoring diet and exercise. Other group focus on maintaining weight loss, and, therefore, concentrates on social support.

  • The mental health support groups: This group focuses on specific mental disorders that are not in the chronic stage. In this mental health support group, individual contribution and duration should be more as there exists an individual difference in the stage.

  • The family support groups: Family support groups for parents of children help those facing any mental illness. It tends to provide support from other parents and children who face the same level of frustration. Meeting or interacting with others with a similar problem may provide support for their frustrations

  • Life transitions support groups: Life transition support groups are more effective for those with the ageing transition period. This support group may also be utilized for individual who are planning for divorce or children of divorcee

Benefits of support groups:

The members of the group usually have similar kinds of emotions and family as they have common concerns. The members of the support group have a common purpose and understand one another.

The following are the typical positive factors gained in the support group:

  1. In engaging with the support group, the people feel less lonely and isolated

  2. The common factors like distress, depression, anxiety, and fatigue are reduced being engaged in a support group

  3. Being in the support group enhances and develop coping skills from others

  4. Improves awareness about practical possibilities with the concern or problem

  5. Development of hope towards life

Will a support group benefit all kinds of people?

Support is not beneficial for some people, as individuals with chronic mental illness or disorder. Support groups may have negative or drawbacks based on the facilitator and problem. The various concerns like Dysfunctional members in the group, dominance between group members, Lack of confidentiality maintenance, emotional conflict with group members, interpersonal conflicts within the group, comparisons within group members are negative factors in a support group.

The support groups are facilitated by well-trained mental health professionals like psychologists or social workers. Support groups help you to feel a sense of identity with other members. The mental stigma is reduced, and people may develop an attitude like many have such similar problems. The question “Why me?” remains unsustained with you. The connection with others in the group helps to remove feelings of grief with you. People in a group may develop a positive mind-set that others acknowledge the problem. The support group is filled with an empathetic feeling of group members.

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