Can You Recommend an Online Support Group?

Helping Hand

[Image credit: What What]

Who do you turn to for a helping hand?

For some common mental health problems people are good at helping each other without the need for professionals. Research has shown face-to-face support groups can be effective for people with depression, chronic mental illness and bereavement. But for those who can’t get to a face-to-face support group, or don’t want to, there’s another rapidly growing option: online support groups.

Almost one in five Americans over the age of 18 with internet access have become members of online support groups (Pew Internet Research Institute, 2005). While no figures are available for the UK, there could be as many as 8 million members. There are almost certainly many millions more using online support groups around the world.

The problem is finding decent groups – it’s not easy to talk about sensitive personal issues with strangers, even given the anonymity provided by the internet.

Because of this I’d like to compile a list of support groups, especially ones that are largely based in the UK or made up of participants in the UK. Perhaps you know of an online support group or are a member or administrator of one?

What type of online support group?

I’m particularly interested in online support groups with the following characteristics:

  1. Mostly based in the UK or having a large number of UK participants.
  2. Reasonably well-established or already with plenty of activity.
  3. Aimed at those suffering from common mental health problems like anxiety, depression and phobias.
  4. Providing a warm and supportive atmosphere.
  5. Mostly involving participants (not mental health professionals) giving and receiving help.

You can email me directly here – I will, of course, thoroughly respect your privacy.

One UK based online support group I’m already aware of is Touching Minds. I also know there are many yahoo groups but I’m not sure which ones meet the criteria above.

Alternatively perhaps you know of a good guide to online support groups? All ideas are welcome…

References

Pew Internet Research Institute (2005). A decade of adoption: How the internet has woven itself into American life.



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About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 18 December 2007

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