Living with a mental illness can make you feel isolated and alone. You often feel misunderstood and that the world around you is fraught with anxiety. While dealing with mental illness can feel overwhelming, you are not alone. Mental health family support groups are invaluable tools in helping you get and stay better. Hearing the struggles and triumphs of others helps you and your family heal from the ravages of mental illness, and you learn how to grow and prosper.

Much like treatment itself, finding a mental health family support group can be difficult. The following article outlines the benefits of mental health support groups, how to find a group that fits your unique needs, and what to consider after attending a meeting.

The Benefits of Mental Health Family Support Groups

The main benefit of mental health support groups is the sharing of similar experiences in a non-judgmental environment. Within a peer environment, you will find acceptance, encouragement, understanding, and a profound sense of empowerment. When you and others share your experiences, there is a sense of relief in feeling that you aren’t alone. The open, honest, and respectful communication that happens in a support group setting creates a sense of belonging that is beneficial to your recovery.

There are other benefits associated with attending mental health family support group meetings. These include the following:

  • Decreased feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Reduce anxiety, depression, and fatigue
  • Improves coping skills
  • Learn about community resources
  • Gain a sense of control and hope

How to Find a Mental Health Support Group

If you are starting your search, finding the mental health support group that best fits your needs, you may not know where to start. The following are a few simple tips that get you pointed in the right direction:

Talk to a Professional

When you start your search, your first thought is to conduct an internet search. However, many groups may not advertise online. Your first and safest bet is to talk to your primary care provider or mental health professional.

What is Your Specific Mental Health Issue?

In finding mental health family support, you need to find a support group that deals with your specific mental health issue. Are you dealing with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, dual diagnosis, or other mental health issues? If you are unsure or are not finding anything in your area, talk to your doctor or local mental health professional. If you are in treatment or ready to complete treatment, talk to the counseling staff.

Frequency and Location

Once you find the appropriate mental health support meeting, you need to find details regarding its location and the number of times weekly people meet. It is important to know whether the meetings are ongoing or only available for a limited timeframe.

Who is Facilitating Meetings?

Another important consideration when finding support meetings is who the main facilitators are. Does a mental health professional run the meeting? A trained facilitator or moderator? Someone who is in recovery? If you are ready to join a mental health family support group, you may favor going to a meeting led by an experienced mental health specialist. However, there may be situations where you would feel more comfortable in a meeting facilitated by someone who shares your experiences.

Size of Meeting

When looking for a family support group for mental health, the size of the meeting itself can be a factor. You may feel more at home in meeting with smaller group sizes because it better facilitates sharing and support. However, a larger group may be a perfect fit for you if you are new to support groups and want to get a sense of how they are facilitated and their organization.

Things to Consider After You Attend Meetings

When you start out, it is a good idea to attend a meeting for a few weeks. During this time, the meeting itself may change, and you will get a good idea if it will be a good fit for you. After this initial period, you need to ask yourself some questions to see if the meeting you are attending is right for you. Some questions you need to ask yourself include the following:

  • Does the group make you and other participants feel included and supported?
  • Do you feel safe and supported when you share your experiences?
  • Did you feel respected?
  • Are there clear rules and guidelines for the meeting?
  • Do group participants or moderators provide helpful information for coping with mental health concerns?
  • Did you get any benefit out of the meeting?
  • Is your privacy and confidentiality respected?

If a certain group is not a good fit for you, move on and continue to search. It is not uncommon to attend several different groups before finding the right support group.

Do You Need Support for Your Mental Illness?

Mental illness affects everyone and is an equal opportunity destroyer of lives. If you or a loved one need professional help with your mental illness, Compassion Mental Health Services can help! We offer an integrated, evidence-based approach to mental illness treatment that is proven to work for you. Our compassionate and experienced staff will work with you in creating an individualized treatment plan drawn from both traditional and holistic therapy approaches. Don’t wait another day to deal with the ravages of mental illness; call Compassion Mental Health Services today.