Though the hardships of ALS can create mental health challenges and isolation, it may help to find support and strength from people who are going through or have gone through similar experiences. During this COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining a real-time connection with others has become all the more critical for our emotional health, and a support group provides an opportunity for people to share personal experiences and feelings, coping strategies, and firsthand information.
Begun in July of this year, our Chapter’s Virtual Support Group exists to help keep people with ALS and ALS caregivers connected emotionally in a time where we are not able to meet in person. Through this virtual community, we hope to help everyone feel closer.
The Virtual Support Group currently meets on the second Tuesday of every month from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The meetings will remain virtual for the foreseeable future, with the goal being to one day switch to in-person meetings, once the pandemic has ended and it is considered safe to do so.
For now, each meeting uses the video chatting platform RingCentral, with the next meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 13 at 6:30 p.m. If you are interested in participating, please register through this link: https://bit.ly/SupportGroupRegistration.
Melinda Osborn, Care Services Coordinator with the ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter, says this support group has the potential to be much more beneficial than one may initially realize.
“So often, families and caregivers don’t recognize the need they have for support, but once they’re present with others who are going through the same thoughts and emotions and conflicts, they often come away from it feeling lighter and like part of a community,” says Osborn.
“Each person’s unique experiences, and the resources and skills they gathered, offers the opportunity to educate each other,” she continues, “And when that happens, when their sharing empowers others, they really tap into what ‘support’ means.”
ALS doesn’t stop, and neither do we. Through this group, we hope to remind each member of our ALS community that in this fight, you are not alone.