Sometimes, life hands you a health challenge you’re not sure you can handle. There’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Support groups bring people with similar experiences together. They offer a safe place to share personal experiences, discuss treatment options and side effects, express worries, get and give advice, and find new coping strategies. They can also provide a level of emotional support that your medical team, friends and family can’t.
North Kansas City Hospital hosts 15 different support groups for chronic conditions, cancer, grief, breastfeeding, weight loss and more. Typically, healthcare professionals and/or people with personal experience with the topic lead the groups.
Support Group Benefits
Participating in a support group lets you spend time with people who understand what you’re going through. A support group may also help you:
- Better understand your condition and treatment plan
- Connect with community resources
- Feel less lonely
- Gain a sense of control and hope
- Improve coping skills
- Reduce stress, depression or anxiety
- Stay motivated to manage your health
- Talk openly about your feelings
Questions to Ask Before Joining a Support Group
- Is this group for people with a specific medical condition or certain stage of a condition?
- Who leads the group? Have they undergone training?
- What are the ground rules for participation?
- What are the guidelines for confidentiality?
- What is a typical meeting like?
Getting Started With a Support Group
Joining a support group can be a big step. You may be nervous about sharing personal experiences with people you just met. In the beginning, you’ll benefit by simply listening. Attend a few sessions. If it’s not a good fit, look for a different group.
Support groups aren’t for everyone. If you need help coping with your condition, ask your doctor for a referral to counseling or other therapy.