“School” is the most important place for children, a place where they find out about themselves and their world, where they meet and learn from each other and from teachers, a place where they prepare themselves for the future.” – John Victor, Senior Clinical Psychologist.
High school is challenging for almost every student. They are constantly exposed to external stimuli that are either too challenging or too big to be overcome. These are times when students are tempted to try things but often don’t either because of peer pressure or because of a lack of confidence. One such experiment is taking part in school clubs. For such students, it is always better to take part in a club. A lot of studies have shown that this group of people tends to become a support group when supposed strangers chat and talk about life on a daily basis.
It becomes easier to get through difficult times when you know that you aren’t the only one in this. Several issues such as depression and anxiety are common but students refrain from visiting an expert because mental illness is seen as a stigma in society. “Just like any other symptom, said Amresh Shrivastava, MD, “when the stigma is left untreated it can cause serious damage to the brain, and even to the patient’s life. Relapse is more susceptible in patients with untreated stigma, and risk of suicide is increased.”
If you are a student and you feel that you need someone to talk to, the best option is to join a school club. If you are a club member or president and you are looking for ways to start functioning as a support group as well, then this is how you can function as both:
- Be Clear and Precise
Let your club members know that you are planning to start a support group. Run the idea through them and give them a plan of action. Once everyone is on board, proceed with the flyers and specify the kind of support group you plan on conducting. For instance, if your support group is for people battling depression, then state it clearly. Once people start flowing in explain to them what a support group means and how it functions.
- Pick A Place
Pick a common spot and don’t change it. School spaces are ideal; you can schedule the meetings after school in a specific classroom. The idea is to pick a location that is easily accessible by all and free every time for a meeting. The problem with choosing a member’s home or yours is that the place might not be available all the time.
Schedule your meetings in a manner that suits everyone. You can schedule your meetings once a week at a specific time for an hour. One hour is the ideal duration for a support group meeting. Make sure you start and end on time so people take it seriously and the decorum is maintained. It doesn’t matter if people come in late or leave early; you should always start your meetings as per schedule.
- Talk to your Therapist
It is important that you encourage the group members to visit a therapist and talk to someone about their routines and how well they are doing. Get some ideas from them as they are professionals and know better. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. wrote, “Therapy can help you ease your pain and create a healthier and more fulfilling life.”
- Keep an Anonymous Box
Most people don’t do this but since it is a school support group, it is important that you leave a box for people to talk and express themselves anonymously. This is bound to encourage them to one day talk about their feelings openly once they see how well their anonymous emotions are being received by the other members of the group.
Ask your group members to take turns and provide for light refreshments. As this support group is for students, you can always pool in for the refreshments.
- Create an Electronic Group
Make sure that everyone stays connected even if they aren’t at the meeting. Make a WhatsApp or Email group and involve everyone in it. This enables people to stay in touch even if no meeting is scheduled. They feel comfortable knowing they can always reach out whenever the need arises.
It is important that you assign a support group leader; this allows the group to function better and hold up the dynamics well.
Sharing stories can be a little intimidating so it is important that you hire a certified therapist to attend the meetings for training and monitoring purposes. Sometimes, in case something is triggered in a member, control is imperative.