Multiple sclerosis (MS) support groups provide people with a way to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. They can be a source of empathy, encouragement, and isolation prevention.
According to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF), talking with people who have the same condition is one of the most empowering things that a person with MS can do.
Almost anyone can join an MS support group, as they are available both in person and online. People can choose a way to join based on what is most comfortable for them.
Keep reading to learn more about MS support groups and support resources for caregivers.
There are many places online where people with MS can connect with others who have the condition. Some options include the following.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society Facebook community
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) has a Facebook community with more than 7,000 members. It is a venue that allows people with MS to ask and answer questions. The forum also offers a safe space for engaging in respectful conversations to provide and receive support.
The information that people share in the community does not necessarily reflect the views of the NMSS, so the organization recommends that people research any advice they receive before trying it.
Aside from the forum, the NMSS also lists other online services. These include:
- MS Friends: One-on-One Connections: This group pairs a person with a volunteer who is living with MS.
- eSupport Health: These groups meet weekly via online video calls, which licensed therapists with MS expertise moderate.
- Happy the App: This app provides 24/7 phone-based emotional support.
- Edward M. Dowd Personal Advocate Program: Rather than a support group, this option offers intensive case management services to people with MS who lack a support system or who have complex needs.
- MS Navigators: This program connects people with MS to the information, resources, and support they need.
My MSAA Community
The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) offers My MSAA Community, which is a peer-to-peer online forum. It is open to any person with the condition, along with their family members or caregivers. People can contribute to an ongoing conversation or start a conversation of their own.
In addition to the online community, MSAA has a toll-free helpline, a live chat system, and an email address that people can use to get advice from experienced specialists.
Ancan MS Support Group
The Ancan MS Support Group is a monthly peer-led group that a person may join online or via phone. Its goal is to help people with MS cope with the physical and emotional challenges of the condition.
People in the group have an opportunity to share insights and commiserate with others who understand and face similar challenges. The group meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at 8.30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Healthline Facebook community
Healthline has a Facebook community for people with MS called Living with Multiple Sclerosis. It is a supportive forum where people can interact, post questions, and share tips.
In addition, it is a source of trustworthy information that can help someone in their MS journey. Professionals from Healthline post links to articles that provide the latest research findings and tips for managing MS.
As with other online support groups, MS World offers a forum for connecting with others. It provides a broad array of subforums split into different categories, which allows members to get very specific information easily.
Some of these categories include:
- medical treatment
- complementary medicine
- symptoms, such as pain and fatigue
- physical and occupational therapy
- assistive devices
- nutrition and recipes
- family life
There are fewer in-person support groups for MS than online groups. However, the two organizations below have local groups in many areas of the United States.
The NMSS has a search tool that people can use to find an affiliated group in their area. Each group lists its contact information and the dates of its meetings. Some also have additional benefits or features.
The benefits of joining these groups include:
- gaining emotional support
- helping others
- learning new strategies to cope with MS-related issues
MS Focus Independent Support Group Network
Another in-person option is the MSF’s MS Focus Independent Support Group Network. It offers a search tool so that people can find local groups near them. Each group in this network is independent, but the MSF provides structure and guidance to all of them.
The benefits of joining include:
- inspiration and positivity
- tips for getting through tough days
People who care for someone with MS can face their own challenges. Although family members often want to care for someone they love, caregiving can be hard work. It may affect a person’s finances, energy, and physical and mental health.
However, support is available for caregivers as well. Some support groups for those with MS welcome participation from family members and caregivers. These include My MSAA Community and MS World.
There are also some support groups and services specifically for caregivers, including:
- NMSS Family Caregiver Support Group: This MS-specific support group offers a place for the partners, children, siblings, and parents of people with MS to share resources and concerns. It is an in-person group that meets on the second Tuesday of every month in Silver Creek, MD.
- Caregiver Action Network: This organization has an online forum where caregivers of people with any health condition can ask and answer questions. The forum has subcategories that focus on different topics, such as coping with caregiver depression and dealing with medical professionals.
- VA Caregiver Support Program: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) has information and a helpline for people who care for a veteran with MS. Local DVA medical centers also have a licensed professional on staff to act as a caregiver coordinator.
- CareNav: The Family Caregiver Alliance offers the CareNav program, which provides support and resources for family caregivers of adults with any chronic condition.
In-person and online support groups offer people with MS a way to connect with others who understand their experiences. The NMSS and MSF websites allow people to find local MS support groups around the U.S.
Alternatively, people can join online groups, which are accessible anywhere with an internet connection. Several choices are available, including the NMSS Facebook Community, My MSAA Community, and the Ancan MS Support Group.
For caregivers, there are similar resources that address their specific needs. These include the Caregiver Action Network and CareNav.