The following article was kindly submitted by Hayley Broughton-McKinna who is the Training Director at PMAC, who specialises in designing and delivering bespoke workplace training to organisations across the UK.

Benefits of Support Groups for Mental Health

Emotional Connection and Validation
Support groups can be beneficial for a person’s mental health for many reasons, especially for the profound emotional validation and connection they can offer. These groups can bring together people who may be facing similar situations or struggles, creating an environment where feelings of understanding, empathy and emotional bonding are greatly encouraged.

Those dealing with mental health difficulties may be feel isolated or misunderstood by their community or society. However, in the community created by support groups, this allows those individuals the opportunity to interact and form connections with others who can relate to their situation and experiences. This feeling of community can have various positive impacts, especially in lessening feelings of loneliness and providing reassurance that they are not alone in their struggles and journey.

Support groups can serve as a platform for individuals to express their thoughts and feelings in an open and accepting space, without fear of judgement. Participants can share personal stories about their experiences and struggles. This can prove to be a therapeutic and cathartic exercise, helping people to feel lighter and really heard.

Sharing experiences can offer validation to all of those involved, not just the person initially sharing. For some, knowing that others have also encountered similar thoughts, feelings, symptoms or challenges can bring a sense of comfort and relief. This also affirms that they are normal and that their experiences and feelings are understandable giving their situation. The emotional connections made in support groups can lead to strong, supportive relationships. These relationships can continue even outside the group setting, providing continuous comfort, advice, and companionship.

This can be particularly beneficial for businesses. Employees that participate in support groups may be better equipped to handle instances of workplace stress. This can mean they have increased levels of productivity and improved workplace relationships. It can also mean an enhanced overall mental wellbeing of your workforce, which helps to create a more, understanding and empathetic work environment.

The emotional connection and validation offered by support groups can significantly contribute to improving mental health, both within individual’s personal lives and in the business world. By understanding and properly utilising the benefits of these groups, businesses can create a more mentally healthy workplace and foster a culture of support and understanding.

Skill Building and Coping Strategies
Support groups offer a unique platform for individuals struggling with mental health issues. They can be used not only as a safe space, but also as an environment rich in opportunities to build on skills and develop healthy coping strategies. These groups can provide an opportunity for individuals to learn from others similar experiences, and to discover practical strategies which aid them in navigating their own mental health journeys.

One of the key skills that attendees can pick up from support groups is communication. Often, individuals with mental health issues may struggle to articulate their feelings or experiences. Support groups offer a judgment free environment, allowing attendees to practise expressing their emotions and thoughts. By doing this, participants will improve their ability to communicate their needs in other areas of their lives – not just strictly related to mental health.

They can also encourage resilience. By witnessing the successes and setbacks of others in the groups, participants can learn to see their own struggles as something that they are capable of tackling. Individuals can learn the art of ‘bouncing back’ and building on their resilience, a critical skill in managing mental health.

Support groups also equip individuals with a range of coping strategies. These can range from mindfulness techniques and stress-relief exercises, to cognitive reframing methods. The shared experiences in support groups can provide valuable insights into different approaches that could be effective in managing personal mental health.

Participants can also build skills in self-care and boundary setting. In witnessing others prioritising their mental wellbeing and setting healthy boundaries, individuals can learn to implement these practices within their own lives.

In the context of a business, investing in support groups can pay dividends. Employees that are equipped with effective, healthy coping strategies and increased levels of resilience are more likely to maintain their mental wellbeing. This can lead to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and a healthier work environment for all employees.

Support groups are a powerful tool for skill-building and developing coping strategies for individuals with mental health issues. Businesses can leverage the value of these groups to encourage a mentally healthy workforce, contributing to a positive and productive work culture.

Improved Mental Wellbeing and Resilience
Support groups can be vital for those battling mental health issues, actively contributing to improved mental wellbeing and resilience. These groups create a space of mutual understanding and empathy, where individuals can openly share their experiences and coping strategies. This exchange creates a sense of connectedness, which can considerably diminish feelings of isolation that often accompany mental health struggles.

Participation in support groups also aid in resilience. Through shared stories of perseverance, individuals often find strength and motivation to navigate their own mental health journey. Routine involvement in support groups can also provide a sense of structure and consistency, which can be especially beneficial during unsettled periods.

Support groups often incorporate educational elements, providing members with a more in depth understanding of their mental health conditions. With knowledge comes power—the power to identify triggers, implement effective coping mechanisms, and seek appropriate professional help when needed. This education, paired with emotional support, can empower individuals to better manage their mental health, whilst also enhancing their overall wellbeing.

The act of helping others in the group can itself create an increased sense of self-worth and purpose. It’s a symbiotic relationship, where the benefit is not only in receiving but also in giving support. Support groups can be a valuable asset in promoting and encouraging improved mental wellbeing and resilience within your workforce.