Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
What happens in a support group meeting?
Meetings differ depending on the individual group. Most meetings are 2 hours long; some will have a guest speaker who may speak to us about medication, advocacy or coping with mental illness. Other groups may have a social aspect with activities. No one is expected to ‘tell all’ and although there are opportunities to air problems the groups have an optimistic feel about them.
Will my privacy be protected?
Yes. Group leaders and members know how important privacy is to participants. If you attend a group meeting you will be expected to keep what is said by other members private as well. You do not have to give any details, whether an address or phone number. First names or nicknames are enough.
Are these group meetings for those with schizophrenia only?
No. The groups are open for anyone with a mental illness which can include people living with bipolar, schizo-affective disorder, anxiety, depression, PTSD and others. We don’t have to disclose a diagnosis at our meetings. Often we may be living with two or more diagnosis and find different areas of mental illness useful to talk about.
How much does a support group cost?
Nothing. Some groups may ask for a gold coin donation for tea or coffee, but no one who attends a meeting is expected to pay.
I am a carer, can I bring my loved one along to a carer’s meeting?
No. Carer support group meetings are a place for carer’s to share and air- to raise concerns or fears that they may not feel comfortable doing in the presence of someone with a mental illness (it may be stressful or plain boring for a person with a mental illness).
How often are support group meetings?
Most Schizophrenia Fellowship support group meetings take place once a month, some meet more often. Ring the group leader for details.
Do I have to be a member of the Schizophrenia Fellowship to attend a meeting?
No. Although it would be a good idea to join the Schizophrenia Fellowship to keep updated by our FOCUS magazine, be informed on issues pertaining to mental illness and have your say in future directions of the Schizophrenia fellowship.
Will I be expected to go to the group meeting every month?
No. You can come and go as you please. All of the groups like to meet new people and continue to see regular faces to pass on any assistance they can.
I am a student, studying a relevant discipline and would like to attend a group meeting as an observer is it appropriate?
Usually yes. Most groups welcome students and health professionals to come along and participate in a meeting. As support groups we are often interested in educating the community and meeting others and telling them our stories is a way to do this and fight stigma. It is important to call the group leader and seek an invitation first.
Can't see a group in your area?
Do you think there is a need for a support group in your community? Would you like to know more about starting up your own support group? Click here: Start A Support Group.