Support groups are a very important resource that patients and families can tap to help understand and recover from mental illness. In fact, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA, has identified them as one of the Ten Fundamental Components of Recovery:
Peer Support: Mutual support—including the sharing of experiential knowledge and skills and social learning—plays an invaluable role in recovery. Consumers encourage and engage other consumers in recovery and provide each other with a sense of belonging, supportive relationships, valued roles, and community.
In support groups, people learn from the experiences of others, share coping strategies and offer encouragement and understanding. They extend the circle of support beyond immediate family members, which can reduce stress and anxiety. In a support group, it is possible to feel less isolated and alone.
Our support groups at Silver Hill are open to the community. Held on our East Campus in either the Martin Center or Jurgenson Building, the regular sessions include traditional AA as well as AA meetings for young people, women and Caduceus; Al-Anon and Al-Anon for parents; NA meetings; the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Chronic Pain Anonymous. Specific days and times, as well as details about how to participate, can be found under the Family Support tab of our website, http://www.silverhillhospital.org/Family-Support.aspx.
As with people, support groups have their own personalities, and you will need to find the one that is best for you. Your clinician is a good place to start for recommendations. Since the tenor of meetings can vary depending on people in attendance, attend a few meetings before deciding if you need to try another. These websites might also be useful in helping you locate groups:
- NAMI - http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=your_local_nami
- Al-Anon and Al-Ateen http://www.al-anon.org/meetings/meeting.html
- Emotions Anonymous http://www.emotionsanonymous.org/
- Narcotics Anonymous http://portaltools.na.org/portaltools/MeetingLoc/
- Alcoholics Anonymous http://www.aa.org/
Support groups do not replace standard medical care and you should participate in these only when working with a mental illness clinician as well. At Silver Hill, we believe they increase the likelihood of successful patient outcomes. We encourage our patients and their families to participate, and believe you will find them a valuable coping resource as well.
Janet Isdaner, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Director of Social Work & Transitional Living Programs
Silver Hill Hospital
We look forward to your comments on this and all Silver Hill Hospital posts.
Silver Hill Hospital’s blog is intended only to provide information; it is not intended to provide diagnosis or treatment. If this is an emergency, please call 911.