What Is a Youth Support Group?

Jackie Myers

A youth support group provides members with help and information regarding specific problems, such as coping with a serious illness or overcoming an addiction. Teens may be able to relate well to those within their age group who are dealing with the same difficulties. They can relate more to each other's problems and have a better chance of living with their issues. These groups can meet in person to provide emotional support but may also meet online or over the telephone.

Youth support groups allow teens to feel less isolated.
Youth support groups allow teens to feel less isolated.

Those in a youth support group gain several benefits because joining a group allows members to feel less isolated with their problems. Experts note that people who have experienced various prroblems can offer advice to other members to improve their coping skills. Support groups can also encourage struggling adolescents to follow through with a treatment plan. When members of a support group notice others making progress against their illness, it can give them hope for recovering.

Support group members can conduct their meetings in a variety of ways. The groups may discuss information in person, by telephone, or on the Internet. A youth support group held online is ideal for those who are disabled and cannot leave their home. Experts recommend that people with rare medical conditions search for support groups online if one is not available locally. Online support groups also offer the option of remaining anonymous and networking with others globally.

Someone who is interested in joining a particular youth support group should attend a few of the meetings to see how well they fit into the group. Experts advise against joining a group if uncomfortable feelings arise during discussions. A welcoming environment encourages members to communicate freely with each other. Members should continue to evaluate the support group to ensure that it continues to meet their needs, as many groups have participants entering and leaving on a regular basis.

Many medical illness support groups are operated by nonprofit organizations and health clinics. Others may be created by a layperson who has suffered with the specific disorder. Families might also choose to establish a support group for a relative who is affected by the illness. A youth medical support group will focus on specific conditions such as eating disorders or depression. Members can share their advice and support with others based on their experiences.

Adults may play a role as mentors in a youth support group. Mentors are common in groups that focus on behavioral goals, resisting drug use, or improving academic learning. A youth support group may screen mentors before allowing them into the group. Support groups with young members encourage parents to become involved. Teenagers who develop a trusting relationship with adults and peers can develop social skills and improve in other areas of their life.

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