Dealing With Feelings: The Power of Anonymity in Chat Based Support Groups

Life’s challenges come in all shapes and sizes.  The emotional toll of stress and loneliness does not discriminate. In the midst of a pandemic, the world as we knew it changed overnight.  Perhaps, you have been feeling like your world has been turned upside down? Everyone faces challenges with regard to their emotional health at some point or another.  As always, it is of importance to listen to your needs and to prioritize yourself and your mental health.  

Mental health issues are common.  But still many people do not speak openly about their struggles or seek help.  The World Health Organization found that between 30 and 80 percent of people with mental health issues don’t seek the treatment they so desperately need.  One of the most common reasons that people don’t ask for help is for fear of judgement.

Sharing your feelings can be scary. Bottling up your emotions can lead to a number of different health problems. You may be surprised to find out just how many people you know suffer from a variety of emotional challenges.   While not everyone will understand your feelings, many people do. Participating in a support group can provide you with an opportunity to be with people who understand just what you are going through. Connecting with others and sharing your feelings with others facing similar struggles has many potential benefits. These benefits include:

•          Feeling less alone by identifying with others going through similar struggles

•          Strengthening communication and social skills

•          Normalizing feelings and experiences

•          Reducing stress, depression and anxiety

With social distancing recommendations in effect, the need for online support groups has never been greater.  One of the benefits of joining an online support group is that many groups offer the ability to remain anonymous. Although we believe that no one should ever feel ashamed to take care of their mental health, seeking help anonymously can offer a gentle start for those who may have difficulty talking about the tough times and may prefer to keep things private. Anonymous support groups offer a safe space to share feelings and stories and learn from the experiences of other group members.

7Chairs offers professionally facilitated online support groups.  We have found that our participants feel safe and welcomed almost immediately upon joining their group.  As a result of participant anonymity our group participants are motivated to get to the heart of their feelings and challenges without fear or shame.  This open sharing within the group and between group members builds and strengthens one of the most important group dynamics, trust.  

Your decision in taking the first step in learning more about emotional support groups is a great one.  If you are new to therapy, acknowledge  and accept the range of feelings you have.  Trust yourself.  Remember these feelings are normal and temporary. You have made the right choice in prioritizing your own well-being.   Support, connection, compassion and care are waiting for you just around the corner in a support group filled with those facing similar challenges to you.

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