Unlike physical disorders, mental illnesses are often not recognizable and challenging to identify.
This makes these disorders a lot harder to understand, leading the sufferers to believe that they are alone in their suffering and that help is unavailable.
Top these with their conviction that there is no way to heal them and that the disorder is too embarrassing.
These beliefs are true for most mental health patients making it hard for them to seek treatment or comfort.
In response to changing these views, mental health support groups were created to help patients know that other people are experiencing the same disorders that they share, which leads them to seek treatment.
These also make them feel hope in their suffering and motivate them to stick to their treatment. For some, it’s their groups that provide the support system they lack.
Benefits of Mental Health Support Groups
What is a Mental Health Support Group?
A support group is a gathering of people with a common goal or interest. Translated into mental health, a group of people have similar sufferings and provide moral and emotional support to people like them.
Usually, these support groups focus and specialize on a specific condition.
For example, it is rare to find a depression support group that also covers schizophrenia.
This need to specialize is driven by the fact that a psychiatric or mental disorder is a highly complex issue, thus requiring a specific direction.
Support groups could be used in conjunction with formal and professional treatment and are often confused with group psychotherapy sessions.
Group therapy is different from a support group, so that the former requires a formal and pedagogical setting.
This formed a group of people with similar disorders and was subjected to qualified mental health professionals.
A support group could be formed by anyone who needs to establish this type of group or who has a particular interest in the services gathered from this group.
It could be a patient of a specific mental disorder, a family member of someone who has a mental illness- virtually anybody.
However, more organized support groups are formed by mental health providers, non-profit organizations, or mental clinics.
Often, this type is controlled by a facilitator or a moderator who is knowledgeable enough in the field to qualify him to manage the group.
Members of a support group are usually patients of mental illnesses. Someone suffering from unipolar or bipolar disorder is normally found on support groups focusing on these specific disorders or a broader disorder like depression.
The most popular format of support groups is through the internet, which is broader in scope both in audience and varieties of topics.
However, a customized but minimal type of support group is the person-to-person format or through telephone.
Lack of more personalized support is the common disadvantage of joining online support groups.
A mental health support group could augment the professional treatment you receive. Still, the services you get from this group should never be treated as a substitute for your medical and psychological treatments.
This group could open you up to reality and may even give you new hope, but remember that treatment for a mental illness is not all about willpower.
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