For the previous two summers, I've attended a 4-week Lithuanian language course in Vilnius.
Last year, it was tough, lonely, and not much fun.
This year, I created a Facebook group for the 80 of us on the course. I invited everyone to join the group, initiated a few simple discussions ('why are you learning lithuanian?') and watched what happened.
Within a week, the group became an invaluable resource for to plan meet-ups, help each other with home-work, identify fun things to do in the city, and keep the social connections going. A simple online group changed the entire experience.
Online support groups have an incredible value for members. One study notes groups enable several key processes. These include exchanging information, sharing experiences, connecting to others, emotional support, finding recognition and understanding, and helping others.
These lead to powerful outcomes such as:
- Increased optimism
- Emotional well-being
- Social well-being
- Being better informed
- Improved control over the common challenge
- More confidence
If you're ever wondering whether or not to do this for a course, a small group of friends, a particular challenge you're facing, do it. The downside is a few minutes of wasted time. The upside is an empowering resource for the entire group.
We need a lot, lot, more people taking the initiative to launch these groups.