Social media is not only for talking with friends or conducting business. In fact, sites like Facebook offer small communities or support groups where users can join and seek social support as they go through the obstacles of life. Much like group meetings at a brick-and-mortar location, social support groups provide an environment for participants to voice their experiences, share their stories, and learn from others. As more individuals turn to online solutions to satisfy their needs, there has been an increase in support groups designed to help others grow.
Types of Support Groups
Depending on what your emotional or social needs are, there is a support group ready to help you. Below are a few of the most common types of social support groups you can find on sites like Facebook.
Alcoholism – More than 11 percent of people age 12 and up in the United States have reported using alcohol rather heavily. The prolonged excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to dependency and then addiction which can wreak havoc on a person’s life. Having a group of online supporters that you can talk to and get advice from can help you as you take other measures to recover from alcohol addiction.
Drug Abuse – The consequences of drug abuse are just as severe as those for people who abuse alcohol. From recreational drugs to hardcore street drugs and prescription medications, a person addicted to drugs can start to suffer physically and mentally. There are online support groups based on the types of drugs used, the stages you’re in towards recovery, and more. There are also social media support groups for parents and family members who need guidance.
Mental Health – Mental health is becoming a serious subject matter in our country today. Chronic stress, depression, and anxiety are becoming more prevalent. Though therapy with a certified counselor is best for treatment, there are social communities and support groups there to provide additional emotional support.
There are plenty of other types of support groups out there to help those that are struggling with life’s happenstances. From family members of suicide victims to cancer survivors, there are clusters of people creating enriching groups designed to help heal.
Benefits of Social Support Groups
Thousands of people benefit from the friendship they receive from online social support groups. Below are a few of those benefits:
- Judge Free Zone – The rest of social media might not be able to understand what you’re going through. If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction or dealing with depression, posting your emotions on your wall might present more judgement and confusion than help. However, when you join an online social support group, you can feel free to express yourself without judgement. Others within the group are going through (or have been through) the same things as you and will more than likely have advice or uplifting words of wisdom to help you through.
- Sense of Belonging – When no one around you has been through what you’re going through, it can be hard for them to be there for you like you need them to. In other instances, people can isolate themselves from you because they don’t understand your struggle. With online social support groups, you have a stronger sense of belonging. Members of the group are willing to welcome you with open arms, share stories, and even connect with you in ways that others cannot. When you feel like you belong to something greater, it can make getting through life’s struggles a lot easier.
- A Source of Information – It’s quite common for an individual struggling with something to look to the Internet for answers. However, there are thousands of sources to pull from, and knowing which are the most reliable can be time consuming. Online social support groups act as a source of information. With hundreds of members in a group, they can supply information to the masses based on their personal experience. This in turn gives you reliable sources from which to learn more about your circumstances and how to heal.
The use of social media certainly has it’s pros and cons, but when it comes to getting emotional support, online social support groups are the way to go. Social media sites like Facebook offer free platforms for users with similar struggles to link up and learn to heal. The right support group gives you the freedom to express yourself, the environment to learn, and the opportunity to grow. So if you’re going through something exceptionally hard and you feel like others don’t understand you, consider joining an online social support group and experience the benefits described above.
http://deserthopetreatment.com/alcohol-abuse/, Finding Help for Alcohol Abuse. 2016
www.mayoclinic.org, Support Groups: Making Connections, Getting Help. Mayo Clinic Staff. April 11, 2015 http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/support-groups/art-20044655
Toptensocialmedia.com, Top Ten SM Staff. 10 Pros and Cons of Social Media. http://www.toptensocialmedia.com/social-media-social-buzz/10-pros-and-cons-of-social-media/