The Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone. However, for those struggling with mental health problems, the pandemic has brought on additional difficulties. People are unable to see their mental health providers, doctors, and therapists in person, and cannot attend certain support groups that many utilized as a sacred space to find help. 

According to the World Health Organization, over 67% of countries reported disruptions to mental health services such as counseling and psychotherapy. On top of that, a recent poll found that 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. Though supportive therapy techniques have always been important, it seems that now more than ever people are in need of additional support services. 

Fortunately, many mental health support groups have been moved online and are now happening virtually. While there are inevitable benefits from in-person meetings, hopefully, these virtual groups will provide some level of connection and understanding. Additionally, online support groups have the added benefit of flexible participation and can serve individuals in places where support groups were not previously available to them. 


Before Joining a Support Group:

Before joining a support group, whether virtually or in person, there are a few things you should think about to make sure you get the most out of the experience. For one, think about what type of support you’re looking for. There are basically support groups for any type of mental health issue: from anxiety and depression to eating disorders and substance abuse. There are even generalized groups that are created solely to serve as a sense of community to better your well-being and decrease feelings of isolation.

Once you’ve given some thought on what type of group you’re looking for, be acquainted with what a typical support group may look like. Sometimes people may feel nervous about joining a group, which is completely normal. It’s good to know that in most groups, it’s more than okay for participants just to join and listen. If you do not feel ready or interested in opening up about your personal struggles, that is just fine. A support group, especially a support group for your mental health, is supposed to be a helpful experience where you can hear from others dealing with similar situations, about their own various challenges and solutions. Like most experiences, it’s a learning opportunity.

If you’re thinking about joining a support group, or you were in a support group that’s been put on hold due to the pandemic, these are some great options to look into! 

Free Online Support Groups:

  • NAMI Minnesota Support Groups 
    • To follow safety protocols, NAMI Minnesota is currently offering all Support Groups meetings via zoom. Below are a list of some of the specific support groups being offered: 
      • Connection Support Group (for adults who have a mental illness)
      • African-American focused Connection Support Group (for people in the African-American community who live with mental illness)
      • LGBTQ+ Connection Support Group  (for people in the LGBTQ+ community who live with a mental illness)
      • Open Door Anxiety and Panic Support Groups (for individuals with an anxiety or panic disorder)
      • Family Support Groups (for families and friends of persons living with a mental illness)
      • Partners and Spouses Support Group (for spouses, domestic partners, and significant others of a person with a mental illness)
    • Each type of support group has multiple different meeting times and days, so make sure to check out their website for more information/details on the group that interests you.
  • Support Groups Central 
    • Support Groups Central is now holding group video meetings led by trained facilitators on a variety of different topics regarding mental health. When you visit their website, you can click on any topic to hear more details about your group of interest. 
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)
    • ADAA has created peer-to-peer online anxiety and depression support groups, with now almost 50,000 subscribers from around the world. They also have a Spanish-language online support group. Check out their website or download their app for more details on how to join and get started. 
  • Wisdo
    • Wisdo is an app that can be downloaded to any smartphone, that allows you to share your story and connect with other people who are dealing with similar situations. You have the ability to scroll through and join various “communities”, and chat with others that you can either learn from or guide. It is a more individualized experience than your typical support group, but definitely a good option to look into if that’s what you’re looking for!
  • Psychology Today
    • Psychology Today has the feature “Find a Therapist”, which you can also use to find a support group. When you get on the website, switch from the “therapists” option to “support groups”, and enter your city. The website will connect you with local support groups, and let you know whether they have a virtual option currently available. 

During a time this difficult, it is more than understandable to want to reach out for any type of connection that you can get. These support group options are offering more than that, and giving you an opportunity to connect with others that are experiencing similar worries, fears, or difficulties. So, if you are beginning to feel alone in your situation, or missing a group that you once were a part of, make sure to look into these options!

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