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Support groups for people with schizophrenia can foster a sense of connection and community and help a person cope with their condition. They may also improve functioning, reduce the duration of rehospitalizations, and prevent relapses.
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health condition that causes people to experience distortions of reality, including delusions or hallucinations.
People with schizophrenia may also:
- have difficulty concentrating and communicating
- have difficulty with schoolwork or employment
- isolate themselves from friends and family
Symptoms often start during a person’s teenage years and early 20s. Without treatment, schizophrenia can be disabling.
Several treatments can help people manage their symptoms so that they can function better in their day-to-day lives.
Schizophrenia support groups are one vital treatment option that may offer a sense of community, important coping skills, and improved outcomes.
Support groups are spaces where people who share a common condition or life situation can come together to share their stories and experiences with others so that they feel less isolated.
They may be led by members of the community, nonprofits, or mental health professionals.
Support groups can be held:
- in person
- over the phone
- via text or messenger app
- via smartphone applications
- online, with:
- discussion boards (forums)
- virtual communities
In addition to antipsychotic medications, support groups are essential forms of treatment for schizophrenia.
Support groups may help members:
- feel a sense of connection and community
- learn more about how to cope with their condition
- get tips about treatment options
- ask others for advice or help
- grow their social network
Family-led mutual support groups can be crucial to treating schizophrenia. They aim to lessen the burden of schizophrenia within the family and among caregivers.
In family therapy, caregivers and families work with a therapist to better understand schizophrenia and develop ways to communicate with their loved ones.
This kind of therapy also offers support for family members and caregivers. Taking care of someone with a mental health condition can be stressful and
The objectives of family support are to:
- provide education and information to better understand schizophrenia
- encourage an atmosphere of mutual trust
- explore strategies for coping with stress
- provide an atmosphere conducive to open, honest sharing of feelings
- discover ways to meet the needs of the person with schizophrenia
- understand how to overcome stigma and foster hope
- learn about services available in the community
Support groups can foster a sense of connection and community and may help a person with schizophrenia better cope with their condition.
Other benefits include the following:
- Peer support groups: These are useful interventions for people with psychiatric disorders.
Some studiesshow that they enable and strengthen relationships in people with mental health conditions such as schizophrenia.
- Online emotional support: This is delivered by trained volunteers and
may have many advantages, including the anonymity of the messaging system and the nonjudgmental approach of the volunteers.
- Family-led support groups for schizophrenia: These
may helpimprove functioning in people with schizophrenia. They can provide long-term benefits, including:
- preventing relapse
- improving family functioning
- providing social support
- reducing people’s symptom severity
- reducing the length of rehospitalizations
Several organizations offer affordable family support. These include:
- family and caregiver schizophrenia support forums
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) family support groups
- NAMI’s Family-to-Family program, a free, eight-session educational program for family and friends of people with mental health conditions
Online psychotherapy is easily accessible and often more affordable than in-person programs.
Here are a few ways that people with schizophrenia can connect with others online:
- Mental Health America offer their own support group through a platform called Inspire.
- The Schizophrenia & Related Disorders Alliance of America offer a variety of online groups and chats for people with schizophrenia as well as their family and friends.
- 7cups offers online chats and other group resources.
- The NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group offers free, peer-led support for adults with mental health conditions.
It is also possible to also talk with mental health professionals online. Online therapy may cost less than conventional in-person therapy.
Here are a few ways to connect with a professional:
It sometimes requires trial and error to find the support group or therapist that is right for a person and their family.
Support groups can help people with schizophrenia achieve independence and grow personal relationships. They are also a tool for families to explore strategies for coping with stress and learn ways to better meet the needs of their loved ones with schizophrenia.
Online support groups are becoming increasingly available as an affordable option. Healthcare professionals also offer online therapy sessions that may be more affordable and can take place in the comfort of one’s own home.