Should You Join a Virtual Support Group?

When you or a loved one develops a serious disease or illness we often turn to the internet to find more information. We search the disease to better understand what may be involved in this new way of life such as medications, treatments, surgical procedures etc.  All of this information is very helpful but many wish to talk with someone who has firsthand experience or to have a group to hold their hand while starting a new exercise program. With the advances in health care, internet programs and mobile health apps have come more options for support. Virtual Support groups are popping up all over the World Wide Web to fulfill the needs of many. Is joining a virtual support group right for you?

In order to make this decision you need to search the internet for what options are out there. Be specific about your disease or the type of program you are looking for. You may find many options. Read through them and find one that speaks to you. Ask to join and get involved. The great thing about these types of support groups is the fact that you can be involved as much or as little as you want, day or night and in the convenience of your own home.  

Websites such as these are helpful for those looking for extra support –

https://www.caring.com/support-groupsOffers a list of support groups for several different types of illnesses.    

https://add.org/adhd-support-groups/  Site helps support those who suffer with Attention deficit hyperactive disorder. There are group calls set up to discuss how you can better deal with this issue.

https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/find-a-support-group This site can connect you with those individuals and families that also suffer from food allergies also. This site is requires more interaction so you would need to determine if this is the best option for you.

https://www.getfit21.com  This site offers a social media support group, education materials on how to exercise and eat and a 21 day health challenge.

 

Many researchers have found it difficult to study support groups to determine if they really do offer the support that is needed. While they have not proven that these virtual groups help to improve one’s health, they have found that group participants feel like they benefit greatly. Group members say that it is a place to vent their feelings, share ideas and find other options out there. Caregivers taking care of a loved one often feel alone and these groups are a way to express their sadness, anger, guilt and frustrations. Members participating in exercise programs say the group ideas is a way to get educated and help keep them accountable and motivated to meet their new health goals. The other members can cheerlead them on to better health.

Not much research has been done regarding the confidentiality of these sites as there are difficulties in obtaining the information. Many use social media accounts to form groups which can leave your information wide open. Disclaimers are posted but your information is not private. If you are concerned about joining a group just remember that you are in control. Only join those groups that do not require social media access and only give out information you feel comfortable with. The research that has been done,  found that the virtual support group settings appear to be a safe and harmless and provide a way to get information, express feelings and share options with others that have the same problems or needs. You chances of benefitting from the group may far outweigh the risk of privacy.