The benefits of support or advocacy groups are tremendous. In a 2010 study by Brigham Young University revealed that high social interactions could increase a person’s survival by 50%.
Meanwhile, low social relationships could be just as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes daily. It’s twice as damaging to health as obesity and more dangerous than a sedentary lifestyle.
In 2016, the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill seemed to corroborate the earlier study. The researchers said that those with good social ties, especially at an early age, could have healthier beginnings and ends. Social interactions are therefore as essential as diet and exercise.
If you’re struggling with something, whether it’s an illness or addiction, improve your odds by joining a support group. If you can’t find one that meets your needs, start one. Here’s how to do it:
1. Begin with Core Values and Objectives
Since you want to attract only the right people for the group, be specific with the values and objectives:
- What is the group about?
- Who can be its members? What are its ages, gender, or problems?
- Can it be open to both patients and caregivers?
- What is the goal of the support group? Is it to help people in grief or provide more information on how to deal with their conditions?
- What’s the direction of the group? Do you plan to establish local chapters later?
2. Market Your Group
Keeping your group tight is always an option. However, if you wish to sustain or grow it, you need to market. This way, you can generate income and attract more members who might need help too.
Below are some strategies you can explore:
- Get patient support group sponsorships. You’ll be surprised at the different non-profits and commercial organizations hoping to build partnerships with advocacy groups. They can fundraise on your behalf, set up an event, or help you give away incentives to your new members.
- Start local. Those who live closer to your support group are more likely to stay compliant or consistent with their attendance or participation. Post your flyers on bulletin boards, hand out brochures, or print posters.
- Use social media. People now sign in to social media in different ways. In a Pew study, at least 70% of parents use it for support. Facebook alone has thousands of online support groups. This platform also offers plenty of tools for control and security.
- Work with an expert. New members might feel comfortable to join knowing a healthcare provider or someone knowledgeable in the field can offer more assistance.
3. Create a Schedule and Be Consistent with It
Some support groups have a high turnover rate. You can reduce that by creating a schedule and then being consistent with it.
- Determine the best time to meet. If you’ve done step 1 correctly, then you know your members well. If they’re working, for instance, it might be best to meet after work for at least an hour every two weeks.
- Find the best place to meet. Some of the most common options are churches, healthcare facilities, and function rooms in restaurants.
- Notify your members if there will be any changes. Unless you have no other choice, tell them at least a week before any schedule change.
Building and sustaining a support group won’t be easy, but it is also rewarding. You can help save lives in countless ways.