Support and Self-help Groups
It may be difficult at times to talk about MS related symptoms with family and friends who may not grasp what it is like – but it can be very helpful talking to other people who share, or have shared, similar experiences. Support and self-help groups are names used to describe in-person meetings of people living with MS.
Support and self-help groups can serve a broader population and many Chapters and Divisions have groups for family members, caregivers, and others impacted by MS. Please contact your MS Society division office at 1-800-268-7582.
What are support and self-help groups?
Support and self-help groups are an informal way to link people who share common concerns or experiences. All support and self-help groups have the same goals: to give and receive emotional support and to share practical ideas in dealing with common problems. Groups are based on the idea that no one knows more about a problem than those living with it. Each person is an expert because of his/her own experiences.
How are the meetings structured and where do they take place?
Support and self-help groups are coordinated by local MS Society Chapter or Division offices. Each group has at least one facilitator who has been screened and trained by the MS Society of Canada.
Group meeting locations vary and are accessible and safe for all members.
What can I expect from my support/self-help group experience?
In a support/self-help group, individuals share not only their problems but their successes. Sharing and talking with others who have had either the same or similar experiences helps people to discover they are not alone and that there are others who understand what they are going through. Support and self-help programs may not solve all problems, but they do offer realistic support, encouragement and hope and are one of the most valued services the MS Society offers.
Will information discussed in the group be shared?
No. Confidentiality is a key component of all support and self-help groups. How do I find out about support and self-help groups in my area?
How do I find out about support and self-help groups in my area?
Please contact your MS Society division office at 1-800-268-7582.
How do I become a facilitator or start a support/self-help group in my area?
Anyone interested in becoming a facilitator must undergo a screening process, followed by facilitator training through the MS Society of Canada. Please contact your local MS Society office for more information on becoming a facilitator or starting or joining a group.
Are there any online support groups?
The MS Society does not maintain online support groups however, there is a national Facebook page, Division Facebook pages, and some Chapter Facebook pages which encourage people living affected by MS, and allied conditions, to engage with one another by posting comments and sharing content. In addition to Facebook, the main website maintains two blogs: a general blog that covers a wide range of topics related to MS, and an MS research focused blog.
The US National MS Society’s online community chat room and message board, MSWorld® Inc., provides a global virtual community of support to people living with multiple sclerosis. The site’s sole mission is to create a safe, informative, useful, and fun place for people to meet, share ideas and gain useful resources to help manage and cope. The MS Society of Canada is not responsible for the administration or content of this on-line resource.
I am not comfortable with a group setting, are there alternatives to support groups?
Some people prefer one to one support, the MS Society has a 1:1 Peer Support Program which offers telephone/internet peer support program for individuals living with MS. Volunteers from across Canada are provided with extensive training to ensure they have the skills to best support you, whether you are newly diagnosed, have specific question about MS or just want to connect with someone who understands what you might be going through.