Support groups are a way for people with a common experience to help each other and learn from each other. There are support groups for people with any experience of mental illness, support groups for people with a specific diagnosis, support groups for family members and friends, and more.
Support groups are offered by community organizations, mental health service providers, schools, campuses, and support agencies. Here are some general resources to help you find a mental health or substance use related support group in BC:
Talk to your mental health care provider. They might be able to make recommendations.
The Mood Disorders Association of BC offers a network of peer support groups around the province for people who experience mental illnesses like mood disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder. They also have groups for family and friends. Groups are drop-in.
Many Canadian Mental Health Association branches offer support services, including support groups. If your local branch doesn’t have their own program, they can recommend other services in your community.
The BC Schizophrenia Society maintains a directory of support groups and other regular events for family members of people with a mental illness.
For groups related to alcohol or drug use, call the Alcohol and Drug Information Referral Service at 1-800-663-1441 or 604-660-9382 in the Lower Mainland.
For groups in the Lower Mainland, search the Red Book Online.
If you are at school or on campus, talk to a school counsellor or your campus’ health and wellness office.
For online support, see some suggestions at www.heretohelp.bc.ca/discuss. This can be particularly useful if you don’t have a group in your community or have trouble getting to an in-person group.
How do I pick the right group?
In order to benefit the most from a support group, you need to feel safe enough to share your experiences and thoughts, and you need to feel comfortable supporting others. It can be helpful to contact the group facilitator or organizer ahead of time to see if a particular group might be a good fit for you. We have a checklist to help you evaluate support groups—including when it might be time to leave one.
Sometimes a group just doesn’t work for you, and that’s okay. If you feel comfortable, you can try talking to the facilitator to see if they can recommend another group that you can try.
Where can I learn more?
About the author
The Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing a mental illness through public education, community-based research, advocacy, and direct services. Visit www.cmha.bc.ca.
Q&A is for readers who want to take charge of their well-being, support a friend or loved one, find good help, or just learn more about mental health and substance use. Here, the information and resource experts at HeretoHelp will answer the questions that we’re asked most often. We'll offer tips and information, and we'll connect you with help in BC, Canada. If you have a question you’d like to ask, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @heretohelpbc, or log in to HeretoHelp and post a comment on this page.