|   Answering your mental health questions

How Can I Find a Local Support Group?

Whether you yourself suffer from a mental illness, or you are the loved one of someone who does, you can benefit greatly from attending a support group. Becoming part of a support group allows you to surround yourself with people who understand what you are going through in a structured environment where you can share your own feelings and experiences, listen and learn from others’ feelings and experiences, and both give and receive support. This can be a fortifying form of therapy because it can help you to feel less overwhelmed and isolated by the symptoms or situation you are living with.

Where to Start

Some support groups are for those who suffer with mental illness, while others are for the family and friends who love, want to help or even live with someone suffering from mental illness. Some groups are run by medical professionals, while others are peer-based, organized by some of the group’s own members.

Important Resources:

Network of Care: Listing of resources including mental health family support and individual support groups for selected U.S. states, by county.

Canadian Mental Health Association Locations: In Canada, contact your local CMHA branch or division for help finding a support group in your area.

SupportGroups.com Online peer-based forum for anyone looking to give and/or receive support about any of a wide variety of health and personal issues, including many different forms of mental illness. Free to use but you must create a username and password to join a group.

Here are some good ways to find out what kinds of support groups are available where you live:

  • Ask your family physician. Your doctor has access to a variety of mental health resources and should be able to inform you about your local support-group options or, at the very least, direct you to someone who can.
  • Ask your therapist. In addition to having knowledge about local groups, your therapist may even be directly involved in a professionally led mental illness support group.
  • Do a little digging. Your local phone directory likely lists the numbers of mental health organizations that can provide you with information about support groups in the area. Also, the websites of mental health organizations such as Mental Health America (the National Mental Health Association) or the Canadian Mental Health Association provide directories to their local offices as well as other contact resources for support groups.

Online Support Groups

If you are too uncomfortable with the idea of participating, even passively, in face-to-face discussions with others in similar circumstances as you, or if there are no appropriate support groups in your area, an online mental health support group might be a good alternative. Some groups offer both in-person and online components to maximize available support.

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