Feeling cut off from one’s support network can be scary. For those who’ve come to embrace and depend on our communities for help, it’s almost like losing a vital part of oneself. Lots of people depend on their social and professional networks to maintain a positive outlook on life. For people with mental health issues, people recovering from addiction, and many others, support groups like these are an essential part of living their best lives. Amid the Coronavirus outbreak, that support for many has been cut off and people are left without social and professional assistance. Fortunately, there are many virtual support groups out there for people to find. You can still reach a community when you need to, from the safety of your home without risking the spread of Corona.

What Are Virtual Support Groups?

If you’re already familiar with things like group therapy, emotional support groups, psychological support groups, etc., then you already understand the basics. Virtual support groups are the same type of event. They’re centered around a gathering of people who share a struggle, usually facilitated by a professional therapist or experienced individual in recovery to share experiences and provide support to one another. With virtual support groups, the same idea is applied to an online space, through a video communications app, rather than a physical destination. Most virtual support groups are done via live-video, but there are some that operate through chat rooms, forums, and other real-time communications. This way people can get the same kind of social, therapeutic, and professional support they need even if they’re cut off from their normal group or confined to their homes.

All that’s needed in most cases is access to the internet and a way to broadcast yourself. A PC and webcam will do just fine, as will any smartphone with a decent camera and the memory capacity to hold the right app. These days, lots of groups are meeting together using video-sharing apps like Zoom or Skype, but it’s also not uncommon to use things like a secure online server or even a private app depending on who’s hosting the group. As long as you have an internet connection and a device with a camera you should be good. Be sure to read the specific guidelines for the group you’re joining to learn which app to download and how to connect properly.

Where To Look For A Virtual Support Group

The good news is that, in response to the conditions brought about by the pandemic, there has been an increase in virtual support groups for all kinds of people. Many groups that meet together regularly have already moved their services online, and new groups are also being formed to meet the new demand. A good place to start is with accredited institutions you’ve worked with before or others you know to be reputable. You may want to check out their websites to see what kinds of online services they have available. A quick Google or Bing search should also bring up plenty of results, but be sure to do your research before diving into any one group you’ve never seen before in particular. Social media groups and mental health support forums are also good places to ask for directions while getting support as well.

Finding the right group may take time, but there are plenty of options out there to choose from. Another option is to look into online resources like the following. These sites can help direct you to virtual services and support groups for people with mental illnesses, people recovering from an addiction, and more.

SAMHSA

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a substantial list of virtual recovery programs and support groups. They also have a list of useful tips for hosting your own virtual support meeting, as well as various resources for finding help in other ways via other websites and hotlines.

NAMI COVID-19 Resource & Information Guide

This helpful guide from the National Alliance on Mental Illness has a lot of useful information for people with various mental disorders and conditions. Among other things is advice for getting medications, medical treatment, and dealing with increased anxiety in light of the Coronavirus outbreak. They also have a list of support hotlines, chat services, and virtual support groups for people with various mental health issues. 

MHA Support & Discussion Community

The Mental Health America support community has a large number of active members across a diverse range of mental health issues including addiction and co-occurring disorders, teen and young adult issues, family issues, mental and emotional disorders, suicide prevention, and many more. Here, you’ll find a large network of people sharing experiences, offering advice, giving encouragement, and just being there to respond to anyone who needs it. 

Stay Connected & In Good Health

Remember that staying in contact with others is important no matter where you are. Virtual support groups can give you the community you need to handle the current situation as well as you possibly could. You should definitely take advantage of them and other online resources like chat rooms, forums, and social media groups to stay connected while isolated. The difference it makes between being totally cut off is immense, especially for those whose mental health worsens as a result of loneliness or seclusion. Also, be sure to reach out to friends and family as often as you can. Staying connected to anyone who can help you get through the day is extremely important now more than ever, so be sure to reach out as much as you need and as much as you can for others.

At Discovery Mood & Anxiety, we help people and families whose lives are disrupted by anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders with multi-dimensional care and evidence-based treatment. Please feel free to contact us for questions, concerns, and support during these uncertain times and anytime after.

Free Webcast on Coping with COVID on April 9

In addition, we’ll be holding a virtual meeting called “Coping with COVID” on April 9 at 11:00 AM PT.  via Facebook live on April 9th. Participants will be able to ask a panel of experts on how to cope with any mental health issue – depression, anxiety, addiction, or stress and other behavioral health issues that can be triggered during times of crisis.  Even if you’ve never dealt with these issues, a crisis of this proportion can make anyone feel stressed and isolated and fearful. It helps to have your questions answered and know that you are not alone. Our panel of experts includes best selling authors and individuals with expertise on eating disorders, addiction, trauma, and other behavioral health issues. Join us for this live event and ask the experts your most urgent questions.  Be part of our community of support. Learn more and register today at Eventbrite.