On behalf of the MS community, MS Reporter Robby asks Dr Rachel Davies “My partner is in a support group with other people with MS. How do I access support?”
Dr Rachel Davies Well, I think the fact that your partner finds it useful, there’s absolutely no reason why a partner support group wouldn’t be useful as well. You get all the benefits of shared experience, being with others who kind of get what it’s like and being able to kind of swap tips and ideas. I know that some people access these things via the national charities that maybe know what’s going on locally, so that’s one thing. Another thing that some people do is they talk to their local medical professionals about what might be available, you know, things on noticeboards in clinics, for example, about local resources and things. The other thing that people do that I’m aware of is sometimes there’s carers’ support groups that are not MS specific, and you might want to think about that, because there may be some common themes about being a carer and supporting, you know, the person that you love, that aren’t just about MS, but that other carers could actually be helpful to you. So I’d think about that as well. And the other thing I would say, Robbie, is that a lot of people that I’ve worked with, they get information on support groups, but they’re maybe not quite ready to go to one yet, so it’s kind of like a resource you put in your back pocket. Get the information, and even if you’re not quite ready to jump in yet, keep it, and then when you’re having a bad day or whatever, you might be ready to make that phone call or send that email.
Robby Is there a stigma associated with seeking help?
Dr Rachel Davies I think there can be for some people about, you know, counselling or mental health support or that sort of thing, there can be, but I think we’ve done a lot in this country to sort of change that idea and actually to see seeking help as a real positive and a strong thing to do.
Robby Right, it’s not because you’re weak, it’s actually…
It’s a real strength.
It’s because you want your relationship to work.
Dr Rachel Davies Exactly, exactly. And I think that’s totally the right way of thinking about it, Robbie. But, you know, the other thing is, you choose what you share publicly, so the fact that you are going to a support group or seeing a counsellor, you don’t have to publicise it, it’s a confidential thing. So you might choose not to tell your parents or your friends, it’s up to you what you share. You’re in control of what information you share with others, so if you want to keep it private, that’s absolutely fine.
MS Reporter: Robby
Expert: Dr Rachel Davies is a counsellor and Senior Practice Consultant at relationship support charity, Relate. Find out more about Relate’s services here: www.relate.org.uk.
– Being part of a support group will offer the benefit of shared experience
– Talk to local healthcare professionals who will be aware of support networks available
– The support groups for carers/partners doesn’t need to be MS specific
– If you’re not ready to access the group, do the research now so you have it for when you are ready
– You don’t need to talk about attending a group, you are in control
– There is no shame in reaching out for help