Many people find peer support a helpful tool that can aid in their recovery. There are a variety of organizations that offer support groups for consumers, their family members and friends. Some support groups are peer-led, while others may be led by a mental health professional.
Who should use support groups?
Support groups are offered as a space where individuals can come together to share their stories, experiences, and lives in a way that helps reduce isolation and loneliness. Oftentimes, we think we are struggling alone, but support groups help us see that there are others who may dealing with similar situations and who in turn can help us get better.
Support groups are open to anyone, but they are often focused on specific topics (i.e. depression, family, divorce, grief, etc.). So, take some time and do some research to find the right one for you and your current situation.
Finding the right support group can be helpful. Do not be discouraged if the first support group you find doesn't quite feel right. You should feel comfortable in the support group space that you choose, so trying different ones may help you determine the best fit.
We also encourage you to also take a look at Mental Health America's LiveYourLifeWell program to learn more about the value of connecting with others and other helpful wellness tools.
Can I access support groups online?
Some organizations now offer online support groups, discussion boards, blogs, and online communities as additional ways to connect with others in similar situations. These can be helpful additions to in-person support groups and can be especially helpful if there are no groups in your area.
Mental Health America has its own support community through Inspire which enables individuals to connect on a variety of issues and topics related to mental health.
Where can I find a support group to attend locally?
Your local Mental Health America affiliate is an excellent resource to assist you in finding support groups in your area.
The National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Group Clearinghouse also maintains a Directory of Consumer-Driven Services which includes peer-run organizations throughout the United States that offer a variety of supportive services and activities, including peer-run support groups.
In addition to the resources listed above, the resources below are divided into three main sections - Specialized support group resources, Other helpful resources, and National Toll-Free 24 hour hotlines. We encourage you to take a look at all of these sections since there are many helpful resources in each of them.
Specialized support group resources include:
- Recovery International
- Adult Children of Alcoholics
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- Alzheimer's Association
- American Association of Retired Persons Grief and Loss Information
- American Association of Suicidology: Support for family/friends that have lost a loved one to suicide
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Anxiety and Depression Association of America peer-to-peer support group
- Attention Deficit Disorder Association
- Autism Society of America
- The Balanced Mind Foundation
- Brain Injury Association of America
- Caregiver Action Network
- Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) In addition to support groups, CHADD has a section for parents which includes many helpful resources (look at list of options on right-hand side of the page) and a link that explains their Parent to Parent Family Training classes. For more information about these on-line training classes, review the information at the link we've provided or contact the CHADD national resource center at 1-800-233-4050.
- Co-Dependents Anonymous or sign up for their email list. You can also visit http://www.codependents.org/
- The Compassionate Friends Grief Support: After the death of a child (Use this link to find groups in your area)
- CoSLAA Support groups for family and friends of people who have a sex addiction
- Crisis Text Line
- Debtors Anonymous
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- Dual Diagnosis of Oregon, Inc. (Although based in Oregon, offer support to those in other areas who wish to establish groups to help those who have both a mental health and alcohol/substance abuse condition)
- Dual Recovery Anonymous: Support for those who have both a mental health and alcohol/substance abuse condition
- Emotions Anonymous: Modeled after the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program, Emotions Anonymous is open to any individual dealing with emotional difficulties.
- Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, a parent support and advocacy network
- Freedom from Fear (In addition to finding support groups, you can use the Finding Help/Resources tab on left hand side to access on-line support, e-mail support, and blogs)
- Gamblers Anonymous
- Gift from Within: Article for partners (Support for both men and women with post-traumatic stress disorder. Use the Trauma Support tab at the top of the page to access a wide variety of support options.)
- Hospice Foundation of America (Grief and Loss section includes link to find a local hospice office using link from left-hand side of the page; many offices offer grief support groups. National hospice office can be reached by calling 1-800-868-5171.)
- International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation
- International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation
- Male Survivor (Discussion board and chat room for men who have been sexually abused can be accessed from Survivors tab on left hand side of the page)
- Narcotics Anonymous
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): A family support and advocacy organization
- National Eating Disorders Association
- O.A.S.I.S.@MAAP (Autism and Asperger Syndrome support group information for both individuals and their family/friends; Support groups tab accessible from left-hand side of the page)
- Overeaters Anonymous Offer in-person, telephone, and on-line meetings
- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
- Postpartum Support International and link to support resources in your area (National 24-hour Postpartum Depression Helpline 1.800.944.4PPD)
- S-Anon International Family Groups Support groups for family and friends of people who have a sex addiction
- Self Mutilators Anonymous
- Sex Addicts Anonymous (description of organization) and find a meeting link http://www.sexaa.org/Meetings/UnitedStates/
- Sidran Institute (Extensive information and resources on ptsd, dissociative disorder, trauma, and self injury; e-mail or call 1-888-825-8249 to request support group information)
- Survivors of Incest Anonymous (Use the SIA Groups and Intergroups options on the left-hand side of the home page to find meeting information)
- The Arc (Support and information for people with mental retardation and related developmental disabilities and their families) To find a chapter near click here.
- Tourette Syndrome Association, Inc.
- TARA Association for Personality Disorder: National Borderline Personality Disorder Resource and Referral Center
- The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors
- Well Spouse Association Support for spousal caregivers.
- Witness Justice (Information, resources, and on-line support for victims of violence or trauma, their family and friends, and professionals)
Other helpful resources include:
- "After An Attempt" A practical guide developed for individuals who have attempted suicide, their family/friends, and for mental health professionals.
- Air Compassion for Veterans for injured veteran's ongoing healing process.
- American Association of Caregiving Youth gives support to individuals under 18 years of age who are caregivers.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has chapters around the country and offers a variety of information and support resources for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
- ARCH National Respite Network
- Armed Services YMCA
- ATTACh at 866-453-8224 (Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children)
- Behavioral Tech, LLC (Information and resources for people with borderline personality disorder and their friends and family)
- Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (formerly known as NARSAD, has information about schizophrenia and depression for individuals and their families)
- Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center
- Cause USA Comfort for America's Uniformed Services (help for those wounded in military service)
- Families for Depression Awareness (Information about depression and bipolar disorder including how to help someone who is depressed seek treatment and manage treatment, information for friends and family members about taking care of themselves, downloadable Wellness Guides, as well as free brochures including "Helping Someone Who Is Depressed")
- Gateway to PTSD Information
- Geriatric Mental Health Foundation offers information on caregiving, mental health topics relating to older adults, and a Depression Recovery Toolkit.
- GLBT National Help Center at 1-888-843-4564 (adults) and 1-800-246-7743 (adolescents) Provides telephone and e-mail peer counseling as well as information and resources.
- Hazelden offers a helpful question and answers section for friends and family members who care about someone who has an alcohol or substance abuse problem. They also offer an extensive separate website that focuses on co-occurring disorders (when someone has both a mental health condition and an alcohol or substance abuse condition)
- Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a service provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy. JAN's mission is to facilitate the employment and retention of workers with disabilities by providing employers, employment providers, people with disabilities, their family members and other interested parties with information on job accommodations, entrepreneurship, and related subjects.
- National Center for PTSD offers "Returning from the War Zone: A Guide for Families of Military Personnel"
- National Center for Trauma Informed Care (NCTIC)
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
- National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder 914-835-9011
- S.A.F.E. Alternatives (Information and resources for help with self injury)
- Self Inflicted Violence (Website includes link to sample newsletter The Cutting Edge)
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- Survivors Art Foundation (For trauma survivors)
- U.S. Vets (A non-profit organization that helps homeless veterans access mental health and substance abuse services along with housing and other community supports to achieve successful reintegration into the community.)
- Yellow Ribbon offers information and resources about suicide prevention for teens, parents, and others. Has chapters in many states and some other countries as well as support resources for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
National Toll-Free 24 Hour Hotlines:
- Child-Help USA at 1-800-422-4453 (1-800-4-A-Child) Assists both child and adult survivors of abuse, including sexual abuse. The hotline, staffed by mental health professionals, also provides treatment referrals.
- Covenant House Nineline at 1-800-999-9999 Crisis counselors are available to talk to homeless individuals and at-risk kids; also offer an on-line forum.
- Boys Town at 1-800-448-3000 Crisis, resource, and referral line that assists both teens and parents
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) connects you with a 24 hour crisis center
- SAMHSA's Treatment Locator at 1-800-662-4357 provides you with information about local mental health services.