3 Ways Support Groups Can Benefit Your Mental Health

Here are 3 ways support groups can benefit your mental health

You can benefit just by listening
A common misconception about support groups is that if you show up, you have to speak. That’s not the case. Support groups, by definition, are about providing support, so forcing someone to do something they aren’t ready for or comfortable with is not how they operate.

There may be some weeks where you share more than others, but one of the great things about a support group is that you can benefit just from showing up and listening to the other members. You might feel too anxious to talk the first few times you meet with a support group. There might be a day where you’re just not feeling up to sharing personal details.

Whatever the reason is for not wanting to share, it’s okay. Meeting as a group allows members to share when they want to and still benefit from what other members are sharing when they don’t.

You can learn new coping skills
Life is hard and complicated, and we don’t always have coping skills that are going to be supportive or helpful. Many of us rely on the coping skills we learned growing up, some of which might not be supportive into adulthood. It takes time and effort to learn new ways to cope in distressing situations, which can feel overwhelming when you’re already dealing with something difficult.

The beautiful thing about a support group is that you’ll learn coping skills that have worked for other people in your exact situation. You don’t need to start from scratch, you can learn from people who have been where you are. Support groups can give you ideas for how to cope, provide advice and insight on your situation, and give you a chance to talk it out with people who really get it because they’ve been there too.

You’ll remember that you’re not alone
When you’re going through something hard, it’s easy to feel like you’re on your own. It can be hard to imagine that anyone else has ever experienced what you’re feeling or that you can find your way out of what’s going on. Meeting with a support group can help remind you that you’re not alone in what you’re going through. You can learn from people who have been in your situation, and find validation for your experience.

Learning from others what worked for them and what didn’t can help you make decisions, understand your situation, and build hope for the future. It’s powerful to see people who have gone through a similar situation come out on the other side and find healing. That can help remind you that it’s possible to get through this.

Support groups can be a powerful tool in your mental health toolbox. While they’re not the right fit for everyone, for many people, support groups offer community, education, and encouragement during difficult times.