Depression can be a very isolating illness. AWARE Support Groups provide an opportunity to meet others with similar experiences, this helps to explain the illness and allows group members to speak freely about how they are feeling, lets group members share information, discuss options and support each other to move forward.
In this section we aim to answer any questions you may have about Support Groups but feel free to contact us on 028 9035 7820 or 028 7126 0602 if you have any queries or concerns about attending for the first time.
"Depression is a difficult thing to accept you have, these groups help take away the stigma and you realise anyone can get depression. It provides you with confidence and support."
"AWARE provides a much needed practical service that helps people with depression, its services are free and the support groups are instantly accessible."
"Although I don't attend meetings that often, knowing they are there if I need them is such a comfort."
"I feel that attending AWARE support group meetings has helped me to fight my own depression."
The purpose of the group is to bring you together with other people experiencing similar problems, so you can support each other and help one another, learn more about your own illness and the treatments available. Attending a group also enables you to share experiences and develop self-help strategies and coping skills that will help you manage your depression.
A facilitator and co-facilitator lead our support group meetings. They are volunteers who have either experienced depression themselves or they have cared for someone suffering from depression. We also have volunteers from the Mental Health professions. In some cases our facilitators have experienced our support groups as members and have gone on to lead meetings on our behalf.
All our volunteers have received extensive training from AWARE and outside bodies prior to leading any meeting. Facilitators however, cannot offer advice or opinions about medical matters. Factsheets written by professionals are available at each group meeting or by contacting the Belfast Office on 028 9035 7820 or Derry Office on 028 7126 0602.
The meetings are very informal. After brief introductions and an explanation of group rules, individuals may talk about their experiences, share information and ask questions. No member is obliged to speak and short periods of silence are normal.
Members may talk freely and give their views on different issues, each person ultimately makes up their own mind about matters discussed and what action, if any, they decide to take.
‘At my first group meeting I found out so much about my illness and the support I received from other group members was great’
‘Just listening to other group members helped me understand so much about my husband’s illness.’
‘It was reassuring to know that there are other people who have the same problems as me and that I am not the only one to feel this way.’
There is no charge for attending group meetings. Voluntary contributions however, are welcome.
Meetings usually last between 1 and 1 ½ hours.