Finding the Right Mental Health Support Group

A peer support group can be invaluable to someone dealing with mental health issues. They can be a powerful tool in getting well and staying well because they offer a safe place and a system of support.

Living with mental health issues can feel isolating. Individuals struggling with mental health challenges may feel misunderstood by friends and family. It is important that individuals with mental illness know they are not alone. According to the National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults in America experience some form of mental illness each year, and one in 20 adults in the U.S. are living with a serious mental health condition.

A peer support group can be invaluable to someone dealing with these types of issues. They can be a powerful tool in getting well and staying well because they offer a safe place and a system of support.

Benefits of Mental Health Support Groups

The many benefits of a mental health support group include acceptance, understanding, encouragement, and empowerment. Sharing experiences with others who may have similar issues can provide not only stress relief but also information and resources. A support group is not the same as therapy, but it is an opportunity to share personal experiences, feelings, and coping strategies.

Other specific benefits can include:

  • Feeling less lonely, isolated, or judged
  • Reducing distress, depression, anxiety, or fatigue
  • Allowing for open and honest conversations about feelings
  • Improving coping skills for stress and other challenges
  • Staying motivated to manage chronic conditions or stick to treatment plans
  • Gaining a sense of empowerment, control, or hope
  • Improving understanding of a mental health condition and individual experiences
  • Getting practical feedback about treatment options
  • Learning about health, economic or social resources

What to Consider When Selecting a Group

There are some basic questions an individual should consider when deciding if a mental health support group is right for them. For instance, is the group focused on their specific mental health area of concern? When deciding on a support group, it is also wise to find out if the group has any affiliations with a larger organization. Some may be secular, while others may be faith-based.

Find out details about the frequency and location of meetings. Does the group only meet for a limited period of time, or are the meetings ongoing? Is the group run by a trained facilitator or moderator? Other aspects to consider include how the group handles confidentiality and the ground rules that all members must abide by during the meeting.

Some groups may have certain criteria that attendees must meet in order to attend. Others may be at capacity and not accepting new members currently. Ask about the typical number of attendees. Does that number feel too small or too large? Get a sense of how a typical group gathering works. Will there be any mental health experts speaking? Some groups may be free, while others may charge a fee to attend.

Asking questions like these can help you determine if the group will be a good fit for your needs. If any of the answers are cause for concern, it might be best to continue searching.

What to Consider After a Meeting

It’s often a good idea to try out a single support group for a few weeks. Not every group will be the same and attending multiple sessions can help you discover if the group is the right fit for you. It is perfectly acceptable to simply listen in the beginning, as you may not be comfortable sharing right away. After you attend a few sessions, consider this list of questions to help determine if the group is a good fit:

  • Does the group make all participants feel included and supported?
  • Do members feel safe and comfortable when sharing experiences and thoughts with the group?
  • Did everyone feel respected in the group?
  • Does everyone understand what’s expected of group members? Does the group have clear rules or guidelines?
  • Do group participants or moderators provide helpful information for coping with mental health concerns?
  • Was the group enjoyable?
  • Was there a benefit to being part of the group?
  • Are there any concerns around confidentiality or privacy?

If the group didn’t meet your needs, it is fine to move on and keep searching. However, it is important to remember that a support group should never be a substitute for proper mental health medical care from trusted health care providers or therapists.

Types of Mental Health Support Groups

There are a variety of peer support group options available. Some may be organized or created by a nonprofit advocacy organization, clinic, hospital, or other community organization. Still, others may be independently organized and run entirely by volunteer members. The formats can vary, too, from face-to-face meetings to teleconferences to online-only groups.

There are specific support groups focused on emotional and mental health recovery. These include:

When searching for a mental health support group, it can be helpful to understand some common terminology. For instance, there are open and closed meetings. Open meetings are for members and non-members, while a closed meeting should only be attended by members and prospective members.

Additionally, meetings may list certain codes that help steer people to the right option for them, such as:

  • (ASL) American Sign Language
  • (BS) Book study
  • (CF) Child-friendly
  • (D) Discussion
  • (G) Gay/lesbian
  • (M) Men only
  • (P) Participation
  • (SS) Step study
  • (W) Women only
  • (WA) Wheelchair access

Support Group Options in Arizona

To find a support group in Arizona, contact the Arizona chapter of NAMI. A trusted health care provider should be able to recommend options, as well.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) runs a national helpline for those dealing with mental or substance abuse issues. It is free and confidential, and available 24/7, 365-days-a-year for treatment referrals and information in both English and Spanish at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

StoneRidge Centers provides world-class, brain-focused treatment for mental health and addiction in a comfortable, supportive setting. Whether you’re seeking help with an acute challenge or require ongoing support, we offer focused, expert-led care to meet your needs and goals. Our team can also recommend peer support networks here in Arizona to help your recovery.

Innovative, Evidence-Based Therapies

Because mental health and addiction concerns are so often interconnected, we utilize research-based approaches with evidence-based outcomes that promote overall healing and recovery.

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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
This low-impact magnetic stimulation activates neurons inside the brain, relieving symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

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qEEG/Brain Mapping
Using brain scanning and readings, we create a map of our patients' brains, helping us develop more targeted and effective treatments.

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Neurofeedback
This process assists patients in visualizing their own brain functionality through continuous EEG readings.

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Spravato Therapy
We use carefully monitored doses of Spravato to help patients struggling with complex mental health disorders, including severe depression.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Patients use this practice to help reframe intrusive or negative thought patterns and develop coping techniques for long-term recovery.

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Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
This practice helps patients learn to regulate emotions, communicate more effectively, and process their own thoughts and feelings..

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Eye Movement Desensitization (EMDR)
Licensed and trained therapists guide patients through this technique for managing stress and anxiety on an ongoing basis.

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Individual Therapy
Patients experience one-on-one therapy sessions with a licensed therapist to provide a safe and private place to recover and heal.

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Group/Family Therapy
Patients can practice the skills and techniques they have learned in treatment with others in a safe, therapist-guided space. .
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