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Mental Health Center

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Support Groups and Social Support - Topic Overview

How to find a support group

Here are some ways to find support groups.

  • Ask your doctor, counselor, or other health professional for suggestions.
  • Ask your religious leader. You can contact churches, mosques, synagogues, or other religious groups.
  • Ask your family and friends.
  • Ask people who have the same condition.
  • Contact a city, state, or national group for the condition. Your library, community center, or phone book may have a list of these groups.
  • Search the Internet. Forums, email lists, and chat rooms let you read messages from others and leave your own messages. You can exchange stories, let off steam, and ask and answer questions. But these websites are often not monitored by professionals, so you may find inaccurate information, which can increase your anxiety.

Look for a support group that works for you. Ask yourself if you prefer structure and would like a group leader, or if you'd like a less formal group. Do you prefer face-to-face meetings, or do you feel more secure in Internet chat rooms or forums?

Social support

Social support includes emotional support such as love, trust, and understanding, as well as advice and concrete help, such as help managing your time. Your family, friends, and community all can do this. They can make you feel cared about and feel good about yourself, and can give you hope.

You may get your social support from many people. You may play sports with one group of people, go to movies with another, and turn to family or friends to talk over problems.

You can look for support from:

  • Your spouse or partner and your children.
  • Your parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, and anyone who is like family to you.
  • Friends, coworkers, members of your religious and/or spiritual groups, neighbors, and classmates.
  • Support groups, consumer drop-in centers, and online support groups.
  • Doctors, therapists, nurses, and other professionals.

Ask yourself where you get your social support. You may be able to forge a closer relationship with family members or friends. Maybe you know someone who you'd like to know better. You can join a club, or find a group of people with the same interests you have.

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