October 27, 2021

Support Groups: How do they help you with your stress and anxiety?

Jiayi Mai

We understand that there are many struggles and stresses that you need to deal with in your life as a youth. The stress might come from family, school or social life. You are not alone. Out of many resources for looking after one’s mental wellness, support groups. Here are some reasons behind how support groups are able to help you with your stress and anxiety!

Dealing with stress and anxiety is a common thing during adolescence. During this period, youths are more vulnerable because they are facing so many life transitions. Important to physical, cognitive, and psychological developments happen in this phase. Pressure from school and family expectations are higher than ever. Stress and anxiety can hinder one to achieve academic success or maintain healthy social relationships, in a worse case,  manifest to more serious mental health conditions if left without help. Therefore, it is really important to seek help. Support groups offer teens a convenient and safe place to share and connect with each other, which can add some positive impact on their way to developing into a healthy adult.

In the old days, friends and family were always the ones who provided social support. However, sometimes they would not always understand the same since they are not the ones facing the struggles. This drives people to seek help from support groups, where people who share similar concerns and interests come together. Support groups, sometimes called the self-help groups, are growing more rapidly than ever with the increasing availability of the Internet. They bring people with similar experiences and problems together. Through sharing and listening to others’ experiences, group members are able to give and receive social and emotional support from each other. Also, they are able to express their fears and challenges under the non-judging environment. The ultimate goal of the groups is to help each other to deal with, if possible, heal from the negative experiences.

The first reason why support groups help you with your stress and anxiety is because you can receive positive peer support here. Peer support plays a really important role on teens because it fosters a deeper sense of empathy and helps people feel less isolated. Knowing that you are not alone gives you more confidence to cope with your stress. It is different from the type of support you get from receiving therapy from mental health professionals, because members in support groups share unique emotional identifications. Additionally, with peer support, members in the group empower each other by seeing each other improving and better coping with the problems. When you see members in the group trying to make progress,  instead of running away from the problems, you will feel motivated and hopeful to cope with the challenges.

Another very crucial component of support groups is sharing. Through self-disclosure and sharing in this non-judging environment, members are able to build more trusting and stronger relationships. By listening to how others deal with their stress and responding with empathy, you bring yourself closer to each other and, more importantly, you start to develop different perspectives on resolving the concerns and making progress. By talking about how you deal with stress and receiving feedback from your peers, you are able to increase self-understanding and gain a deeper insight on your current challenges. You learn helpful information when members share their success stories, resources or even little tips. Even though success stories don’t always happen, members are still able to gain a whole new perspective and gain hope from listening to each other. 

We totally get that it seems intimidating at first to step out of your comfort zone and seek help. We want you to know that whatever challenges and fears you have now, you are not alone. Consider giving support groups a try when you feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. In Homework Hotspot, we provide middle schoolers Coping with Stress and Anxiety Support Group every Wednesday from 4:30 to 5:30 (PDT). You are more than welcomed to come by!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am Jiayi Mai and I received my B.A in Psychology from University of California, Irvine June, 2021. I work at Thaddeus as a Psych Intern. I am passionate about helping others and currently interning at 3 NGOs while preparing for my graduate school application.