Mental issues are inherent in a society that is in a perpetual state of change and is confronted with financial constraints and other life challenges. Group interactions lessen the pain associated with mental diseases such as depression, anxiety, and exhaustion, which require a collective strategy to overcome. Since group members share comparable experiences, they may discuss similar thoughts, fears, everyday struggles, treatment decisions, and side effects. Some organizations may offer educational opportunities, such as hosting a physician, psychologist, nurse, or social worker who will speak on a topic pertinent to the group’s needs. This article will focus on two online support groups, evaluating why people create and engage in groups and the significance of these organizations in contemporary society.
Focus groups for this assignment will be the International Cerebral Palsy Society and Sesh group focused on addressing anxiety. ICPS is a worldwide organization founded in the United Kingdom in 1969 (Stern). The society held its Annual General Meeting on 20 September 2021 (Solution, 2021). The organization was established to help raise awareness of people living with cerebral palsy and bridge the gap across countries regarding the societal acceptability of those with cerebral palsy. This group strives to educate the public about the rights of people with disabilities and to protect those rights. In addition, they promote worldwide collaboration, enhanced mutual understanding, and the exchange of information. This may include new therapies, services, regulatory changes, or advances in the public’s knowledge of the condition and how it impacts individuals and their families. Through participation in the seminars, people with cerebral palsy will have the opportunity to seek knowledge and get answers regarding how to effectively address educational, emotional, financial, or physical difficulties.
In the year 2020, when the pandemic broke out, Sesh was established to deliver low-cost emotional support groups to individuals around the country who were going through difficult circumstances. Sesh allows its users to participate in peer support groups that last for an hour and are led by licensed therapists. These groups are focused on specific issues, such as feelings of burnout at work, difficulties associated with becoming a new parent, challenging relationship issues, and high levels of anxiety.
The primary focus of the discussion in both group meetings was on resolving mental health problems that individuals experience daily. ICPS raised awareness about the challenges parents and other caregivers face when attempting to raise disabled children. The main issues that have been brought up are the high cost of the therapy sessions and the medications required to control the convulsions. The meeting found a lack of support and understanding of the condition from family and friends, which led to psychological issues such as isolation, worry, and stress. On the other hand, the Sesh online group gathering brought up mental health difficulties affecting people on a general social level. These issues include stress linked to jobs, relationships, and families. At the meeting, many solutions were presented regarding how the problems could be solved from the point of view of a medical psychologist.
After careful observation, I concluded that both groups followed the group procedure and guidelines appropriately. They successfully incorporated all five stages of the group process: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. It was clear that every member could participate effectively in group processes because they could smoothly work with other team members. Active listening, dispute settlement, decision-making, and apparent interaction are some talents that fall under this category and were well articulated in the meeting. As a result of this, the meeting became more objective and interesting.
As a consequence of witnessing and listening to the experiences of many group members, I realized that mental health is multifaceted and affects individuals from various perspectives. A circumstance one person may view as having less significance than another could hurt another. Even though all of the members had unfortunate experiences, the stories of the parents of children who lived with cerebral palsy captured my attention. The stigma connected with the disease and the level of care required for these children’s demanding needs and stigma resulted in their parents being isolated from society (Corey, 2020). Most parents and community members have blamed them for having done something improper that led to the development of CP in their children. Personal crises experienced include job loss, difficulty concentrating at work, less joy in the family dynamic, and a disruption in the family’s ability to manage its financial affairs.
The facilitators of both groups showed an in-depth awareness of the struggles that the participants of their respective groups were experiencing. They were able to empathize with the predicament that other members were facing. These group discussions were led by facilitators who maintained a neutral point of view. They were able to display strong abilities in the art of communicating. They were genuine and remained objective during the entire process of responding to members’ issues. The moderators encouraged members of the group to provide helpful input by questioning them in a way that pushed them to think more generally, deeply, and widely. They prompted the group to pause and evaluate either their performance or their thoughts to make improvements in both areas. The most useful feedback is helpful and founded on actual, observable occurrences to which other people may relate (Corey, 2020). The facilitators proved their openness to receiving feedback by actively listening to what was being said and implementing changes to the procedure wherever it was logical.
Throughout the discussion, I was plagued by various conflicting emotions and thoughts regarding the factors contributing to the poor mental health that so many individuals endure in society. I began to have the sensation and want to be a member of these groups and have the ability to impact the lives of those battling anxiety and despair positively. In addition, I have the impression that the medical department is not addressing the issues that genuinely impact the mental health of its citizens. As a result of the psychological torment the members had to go through, I found that I could not control my emotions at one point during the session, and I ended up crying as a result.
Participating in the groups significantly improved my knowledge of assisting a wide range of people when confronted with difficult circumstances. Participants were able to think critically about their challenging situations as the session progressed, thanks to the behavioral theory that was being utilized (Lazarus, 1971). The fact that the participants were all dealing with comparable difficulties made for an atmosphere that benefited everyone. Participants identified positive reinforcements that enabled them to understand their problems and work towards having a positive attitude towards coping with their challenging situations (Corey, 2020). It enabled participants to understand better how to deal with their challenges. Leadership is necessary while individuals are being assisted in overcoming their difficulties. During the entire session, each person participated, in some capacity or another, in cultivating a conducive environment. Consequently, the participants had a sense of appreciation inside the group and could freely express their viewpoints and opinions without the risk of being mocked.
Participating in several group meetings has led me to conclude that all groups have similarities and differences while retaining their individuality. Each of the groups I observed had completed the essential steps to form a group and was working toward the common goal of finding solutions to the difficulties that had brought them together. Each of the groups took a person-centered approach in order to make sure that the contributions made by each member, regardless of how little those contributions might be, were acknowledged and valued by the other members of the group (Rogers, 1951). It made it possible for the groups to realize their goals in an integrated and highly effective manner. On the other hand, the Bible study group focused on people from the same geographic region, whereas ICPS and Sesh covered people from all over the world.
As a result of my interactions with the organization’s members, I have firsthand experience of the resolute commitment that the members have to ensure that they improve their lives. It is clear from the experiences of many different groups that to achieve success, members of the group need to collaborate and communicate the group’s objectives to everyone. However, because members of different groups are confronted with various obstacles, those groups might be more open to adopting a variety of strategies in order to accomplish their goals.
In conclusion, it is of the utmost importance to encourage people not to keep their difficulties secret but rather discuss them with other members of society, as doing so will assist in reducing the number of mental health challenges experienced by people in all parts of the world. The members of the various communities need to be educated on the risks of stigmatization and the need to demystify cerebral palsy to pave the way for concerns to be addressed in an amicable way.
Corey, G. (2020). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Enhanced (10th ed.) Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole Publishing.
Lazarus, A. A. (1971). Behavior therapy and beyond. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Rogers, C. (1951). Client-centered therapy: Current practice, implications, and theory. Boston: Houghton Miflin.
Stern, K. A. (n.d.). Cerebral palsy organizations. cerebralpalsy.org. Web.
Solution, B. (2021). News. International Cerebral Palsy Society. Web.