Student-Based Mental Health Support Groups

Do Student-Based Support Groups Help?

Researchers have discovered that support groups can help people with mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and psychosis, during their recovery processes. Increase in activity levels from participating in support group events and meetings is what was found to help with the recovery process. It's important to consider both objective and subjective matters when you're choosing your support groups:

  • Objective: the type of people that are involved in the groups.
  • Subjective: your personal satisfaction towards the groups.

The more number of support groups you join, the more it will help with the recovery process. But always make sure you are satisfied with your support groups.

What Do VT Students Think About Student-Based Support Groups on Campus?

We created a survey to receive feedback on student-based mental health organizations from Virginia Tech students. We aimed to collect data from 20-30 individuals to include a wide scope of opinions in our research. The Google Form survey was distributed to Virginia Tech students via Facebook and email. Our objective was to gain insight on how effective these support groups are at establishing their presence and delivering their message.

Students were asked about the culture of mental health at Virginia Tech. Half of respondents said stigma around mental illness is not a problem, a quarter think there is, and a quarter are undecided (Figure 1). 85% of respondents have had experience with mental health issues. While the majority disagreed with the statement, all respondents who agree that the stigma is a problem have also had experience with mental health issues. This is concerning as there might be a group of people who need help but are unwilling to reach out because of the stigma. Further research is necessary to understand why students feel this way and how to address the problem.

Survey result that shows Stigma around mental illnesses is a problem at Virginia Tech

On the basis of the survey distributed to Virginia Tech students, we conclude that student-based support groups are received fairly by students. These groups have a positive impact on mental health awareness but could do more to promote themselves and combat continuing feelings of stigma surrounding mental illnesses. Only a few students knew the names of such groups. Making a name for themselves gives more power to their cause, allowing them to reach more people and help those in need.

What Do The Experts Think?

A neuroscience professor thinks that there is a deep need for people with mental illness to hear the shared experiences of others. There are new breakthroughs in medication and treatment for mental illness, but medication is best when paired with peer-support. It’s hard for many people to see their mental health problems as an illness, but students aren't alone and should be encouraged to seek help from both professionals and support groups. Student-based support groups, rather than just counseling or medication can be extremely helpful for dealing with stress and improving one's overall mental state. One’s peers can encourage healthy choices such as lifestyle changes and seeking professional help.

Student-Based Support Group on Campus: Active Minds

Active Minds is a student-led organization on Virginia Tech's campus that aims to start a conversation and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. Meetings are open to anyone; individuals struggling, know someone struggling, or just curious about mental health.

Meetings are every other Thursday at 7:30 pm in Williams Hall 134. Typical meetings include discussing different aspects of mental health, how to cope with them, and how to help other people that are dealing with similar issues.

Active Minds plans and participates in events such as Send Silence Packing, Mental Wellness Week, and the Spring Semester Finals Extravaganza.

Find Active Minds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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