Health-based support groups

Health-based support groups are for people who have similar health conditions. You meet and share knowledge, experiences, strengths, and hopes and to gain a sense of community. People join support groups to learn self-help techniques and also to offer support to others, thereby increasing their own wellbeing.

Benefits of belonging to a support group

There are a number of benefits of belonging to a support group, including:

  • meeting others who have the same health condition
  • receiving good practical advice about treatment options
  • sharing experiences
  • learning tips that others have used to manage the condition
  • receiving support in putting self-help strategies in place
  • developing a clearer picture of what life is like with the condition
  • gaining information of where good resources are available
  • reducing anxiety, depression and distress
  • feeling less isolated and alone
  • offering emotional and moral support
  • meeting new people and forming new friendships
  • feeling better equipped to support friends or whānau with the condition.

Types of support groups

Peer-to-peer support group

People with similar health problems, for example, diabetes or asthma, come together to share their experiences. The group is run by the members themselves. Some groups ask health professionals along to provide advice, information, education or clinical support. In this group, members have a sense of belonging and feel supported in a safe environment.

Clinical support group

This type of support group is set up by health professionals. It is professionally facilitated and provides current research findings, education and advocacy.

Online support group

Some organisations run online support for people who are housebound or have little or no time to attend meetings. They may also live in rural areas where there is no close support from a local community or from health services. Online support groups are often used by rangatahi (young people).

Culturally-specific support group

Culturally specific support groups meet the needs of people who feel more comfortable with others who have similar cultural experiences. For example, refugees, Pacific Peoples, and Māori.

Find a support group or service

You can find specific support groups or services on the Healthify website.

Find a support group or service — Healthify (external link)

Setting up your own support group

If there is not already a support group in your area, you can start your own. Our booklet covers everything you need to know about setting up a support group, including:

  • how to find members
  • finding a venue
  • funding
  • guidelines for running meetings
  • tips to handle difficult situations
  • finances
  • confidentiality.

Starting a Health Support Group — Information Booklet [PDF, 1.4 MB]internal link

Last updated: