Being diagnosed with a health condition can often make you feel alone. Want to connect with someone who knows just what you’re going through and who can provide firsthand advice for dealing with your diagnosis? Then consider joining a support group.
Support groups are a great place to find comfort and encouragement when you’re managing a health condition. Joining one could even help you feel better. People in support groups have been shown to stick to their treatment plans better.
While some support groups meet in person, there are also those that meet online or via teleconference. As an added benefit, many are completely free or collect small donations to cover expenses.
So what should you look for when choosing a support group?
- A well-rounded group that includes newcomers as well as people who have been attending for longer periods of time, so you get a variety of perspectives
- Signs that the group is stable and meets its members’ needs, such as individuals who have actively participated for a while
- A sense of comfort around the members of the group; it is important to feel as if you are in a safe space to fully benefit from the discussion
- Leaders that empathize as well as moderate effectively; they should gently draw out shy members and ensure more talkative members don't dominate the conversation
- A group that focuses on your specific condition rather than generalizing
- A group that doesn’t enforce fees or attempt to sell products — this is a sign that the group puts its own needs before its members
How to Find a Support Group
- Local hospitals and healthcare providers are a great place to start. They can suggest where to find a support group because they've probably referred patients in the past
- National organizations can help you find a local support group in your area
- Neighborhood organizations can also provide assistance