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Support groups!

Hey guys,

 

So I've read a few posts over my short tenure at RO, and @Bee mentioned support groups in general and also peers and family as support in another forum, and so did @khaleesi_18 I think? Correct me if I'm wrong though, 'cause my memory is as good as a goldfish's. But I kind of had an early lightbulb moment that made me feel stupid about not suggesting this before!  Especially with so much talk around communication, judgement, barriers in terms of talking to parents, fam or friends or it can feel daunting to do so even if they're open and receptive when you're not doing well. Keeping all this is in mind + what a couple of you have brought to the forums in terms of wanting to speak to someone that understands, minus the phonecall + the human connection/in flesh concept, I'm really surprised it hasn't come up before (maybe it has and then you can this as a reinforcement of sorts? But link me to it if it has!) 

 

I have been attending a support group for anxiety lately, which I actually help peer facilitate, and while it may sound totally lame at first, I honestly really rate them! I mean think about it: similar people to you so you can vent openly - minus judgement + support + coping strategies + (often) free tea/coffee + ability to opt out at anytime/no obligations/costs + no clinician forcing problem solving + open forum + anonymity in a safe environment etc etc. What's not to love? Even as a rookie and not having initially having gone for my own anxiety, it helped me so much to be able to learn and absorb other people's experiences. So I'm a huge believer and I think there should be a lot more of these anonymous forums. If you're imagining the AAA stuff from movies or TV, it's rarely that big or structured, and you're not obligated to share - it really just depends on how much you want to contribute or get out of them, also no sponsors. You're still in charge of your own care, but it gives you an opportunity to connect with other people and their experiences in a safe environment. I think the success of support groups is in the opportunity it affords you to normalise your experiences with what you're struggling with. 

 

The tricky bit though is navigating the waters and finding one, there's no one website I can refer you to so you might need to do a little bit of research, but I really recommend persevering in the process and atleast giving it a go. To my knowledge, one really great place to start is the ARCVic support groups in Victoria.And I know through the same guys that they advertise on meetups.com, so maybe try that website too just to check out what support is around you.This is their website if anyone is keen https://www.arcvic.org.au/our-services/support-groups

 

As I do my research and find more avenues to access these groups, I will post them up here but I also want to open it up to you guys and ask that if you do know of places/websites that people can go to to join up, please share!

 

Also let us know what you think about this post or support groups in general or whatever - I'm really interested in what you guys think!!! I will also keep adding things as I find them!! Smiley Happy

 

 

Re: Support groups!

Interesting topic! I don't think we've really touched on support groups here on the forums (though I'm also totally happy to be corrected if we have!)

 

I'm curious if anyone's ever been to one and what it was like. As someone with social anxiety I honestly couldn't imagine anything worse than going to a meeting with a group of strangers and talking about my experiences - I find it hard enough to do so in a one-to-one setting with a psychologist. That's not to say I don't think they could be useful tool for some people, especially if they don't get a lot of support from other people in their life. These forums are kind of like an online version of a support group and I certainly find that coming on here is often helpful Smiley Happy

 

What do other people think?

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Re: Support groups!

Hey this is really cool! And something a lot of people here would benefit from, I'm going to have at the link
//You can stay afraid, or slit the throat of fear and be brave//
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Re: Support groups!

I love support groups! Smiley Very Happy

 

At first, I actually really hated them once upon a time, even the mere thought of sitting with a bunch of strangers and sharing how I thought and felt. I don’t now though, I consider them a valuable tool, after attending quite a few myself now. I think in the beginning I was more afraid of being judged and ridiculed but often that’s far from what happens. I learnt support groups tend to be a lot like the RO forums, in that it’s a community setting, full of people who want to help. After that, it became a lot less daunting and I actually found I benefited from it a lot.

 

There are heaps of community run and based mental health support groups in WA that I know of. Below are a few links to some that any WA peeps might want to take a peek at:

 

GROW WA: http://www.grow.org.au/wa/

Even Keel Bipolar Support Group: http://www.evenkeel.org.au

GenWHY? Support Group holds fortnightly meetings for people with depression and/or anxiety aged over 25 years of age: http://www.depressionwa.org/GenWhy/index.php?option=com_smartformer&Itemid=65

 

For families and friends, there’s always these two organisations that hold regular groups:

 

CarersWA: http://www.carerswa.asn.au

ARAFMI WA: http://www.arafmi.asn.au/

 

Those listed above are just some but there are plenty more around if you look within your communities. A good way of doing so is to have a peak at this website: http://www.connectgroups.org.au/ You can pretty much search for any specific kind of group you like and it will list them, along with contact details and how to get involved.

 

I would love to run my own Mental Health support group or help facilitate one at least. It’s always been an aspiration of mine.  I can just see myself starting ‘Reach Out Australia’ support groups all over the nation Smiley Tongue

Re: Support groups!

@Butterfly Wings haha I'd love to meet some of the people here. It can still be anonymous but sometimes it's just, I want to hug you all because you're all such amazing people. Smiley Tongue
Then again, I'm a socially awkward person and actually going to any type of support group would be a terrifying experience.
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Re: Support groups!

@Sans-RO awesome idea for a thread! Smiley Happy I think a lot of users would find it super helpful! I'm looking forward to learning more about them to be honest.

 

@lokifish I like your point that RO functions in a similar way to a support group (that's what we're here for!) Smiley Happy I think it definitely depends on what you would feel comfortable doing. Support groups are judgement-free places, and you can share as much or as little as you like.

 

For those that have gone to support groups before (or attend them regularly) - what do you find the most beneficial about them?

Re: Support groups!

I used to attend a hearing voices group a few years ago. It helped me realise I wasn't alone and helped me make more sense of my hallucinations. I would definitely recommend support groups.
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Re: Support groups!

@Butterfly Wings wowza! good job! I was hoping some of you might be able to come up with some of these! 

 

@redhead I'm so glad its worked for you in the past in helping you make sense of what you're going through, I recently attended one where I learnt so much more about people with schizophrenia that hear multiple voices, as well as it running in their families and their battles, it was actually so eye-opening! One of the attendees told us that they attended a workshop which was for people that didn't hear voices, and were asked to wear a pair of earphones throughout the workshop while doing tasks and going about their normal interactions/routine and I've got to say that really really stood out for me because that would be particularly hard for me to do. I suppose it depends on the group culture, but do you reckon it's a good idea to go back to it? Also do you mind linking it on here for people that might be keen on attending? 

 

Re: Support groups!

@lokifish yeah, I totally see what you mean - the thought can be quite daunting!!! I think what helps about support groups though is that everyone's been there done that, so it normalises your experiences and thoughts and feelings and because of that shared experience everyone tends to be so respectful, warm and open, which helps elevate some of the anxiety around social contexts (atleast from my experience. Also, support people can accompany you that can chill on the side or join in, and you don't have to speak if you'd rather 'pass' - it's quite an open, facilitating and safe environment. And 100% RO feels like an online version of it!