Join a Support Group
It is really important to remember that a Support Group is never the first line of intervention when treating a mental illness. In the majority of cases Support Groups are run by patients and ex-patients themselves, they are not mental health practitioners and are not able to provide medical advice. Remember, a Support Group is not the same as group therapy.
If you have consulted with a mental health practitioner, have received a diagnosis and are managing your mental illness a Support Group can be an incredible support in maintaining your mental health. We recommend that you have been managing your mental health well, and if on medication for your mental health, that you have been on the same medication for a minimum of 6 months prior to joining a Support group.
This being said, not everyone needs a diagnosis to attend a Support Group. There are a few Support Group exceptions, for example if one wanted to join a Group for family members and loved ones of those with a family member who has a mental illness, they wouldn’t need a diagnosis. Similarly, if you wanted to join a Support Group for survivors of loved ones who died by suicide, you may not need medical assistance first. But, as a general rule of thumb, one should first see a Mental Health Practitioner and have received a diagnosis prior to joining a Support Group.
If you are currently in therapy, we advise speaking to your therapist or counsellor about wanting to join a Support Group prior to doing so. While Support Groups create a safe space of mutual sharing, support and understanding, for those needing professional assistance, Support Groups can become a triggering environment, and can potentially have the opposite effect if the member joins the group prior to managing their mental illness.
If you are unsure whether a Support Group is for you, please call one of our toll-free lines and a counsellor will assist.7
What would you say to someone who was interested in joining a Support Group?