As technology advances, seniors may find themselves in need of help with computers. Fortunately, there are a number of online support groups and forums available to provide assistance. Psychology Today is a great resource for finding virtual support groups, workshops, and even therapists. To find one, use the Find a Therapist search, switch to the “support group” option, and then search by keyword.
You may need to experiment a bit to find the right group for you. Costs will vary depending on the group, but some are free or available on a sliding scale. Facebook groups can also be a great source of support. Many mental health professionals have created supportive spaces in response to the current economic and political climate, as well as the recent cases of police brutality against black people. There are also independently managed Facebook support groups for a variety of topics.
Meetup is another platform that can be used to organize support groups, both in-person and virtual. For those who require more intensive support, online groups can provide additional help between traditional group meetings. While there is no research that has examined this format to determine its effectiveness and efficiency in transmitting health education messages, it can still be a great resource for those struggling with social anxiety or who need to protect their privacy when seeking help. Examples of online support groups include private support groups for people struggling with anxiety created by the founder of the blog Anxious Lass, Therapy for Black Girls' Thrive Tribe discussion group, and Zencare's list of virtual support and connection groups. REACH for TLC (Telephone Linked Care) is an automated support system designed to provide assistance to caregivers of patients with Alzheimer's disease using touch-tone phones. The proliferation of online groups has an impact on the need for health educators to have technology-related skills. Volunteers gain new skills while providing valuable service to older people who truly appreciate help.
However, it is important to remember that support groups are not a substitute for professional mental health treatment. Research possibilities include studies on the phenomenon of stalking, the use of humor and its role in online groups, and the quality and character of the health outcomes of members of online groups. Ultimately, online support groups can be a great resource for seniors who need help with computers.