Are you aware of these support groups in Chennai?

April 18, 2022 02:25 pm | Updated 02:25 pm IST

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi | Photo Credit: Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi


Initiated in 2016, the support group was started under the aegis of the Schizopheria Research Foundation (SCARF) for caregivers and family members from the outpatient ward, but is open to the public.<SU>The group is yet to resume its physical meetups, but meets virtually once or twice a month for caregivers of those with dementia.

They offer support in terms of improving the caregiver’s basic knowledge about the illness and its progression.

“Getting peer support is helpful for any chronic ailment and over the years we have caregivers taking the lead in hosting meetings and bringing in new caregivers to offer the right kind of help and support,” says Dr Sridhar Vaitheswaran, assistant director and consultant psychiatrist dementia care in SCARF.

This is closed group and members are admitted after the diagnosis of a report is verified.

Contact 7358 588 822

Parkinson’s Disease

Parivarthan for Parkinson’s Foundation offers a safe platform for members to share information, exchange their experiences on Parkinson’s Disease and involve them in activities to improve their quality of life. Members receive yoga therapy, occupational therapy, counselling and guidance from subject matter experts in dealing with the disorder.

Started in a small way in 2014, the Foundation today has 250 members from Chennai and other parts of the Tamil Nadu. More than 80% of its members are male and aged above 60 years. “Around 50% of these families live alone, with children either living abroad or in other parts of India, so having a community to provide them support is crucial to their well-being,” says Sudha Meiyappan, who started the Foundation.

Over the years, she says, by taking part in the discussions, they have seen affected persons less hit by depression. ed.

In pre-COVID days, the group would meet at a few venues in the city and it is hoping to bring back in-person meetings soon.

Call 93810 35979 or email


A Bereavement Support Group is run by Cancare Foundation that offers emotional support to families who have lost their loved ones to cancer. They meet on the second Saturday of every month, between 2.30 p.m. and 4.30 p.m. on the Foundation’s premises at VHS Hospital in Taramani to learn how to share grief, fight emotions and gain strength from learning about each other’s journey. The meet-ups are facilitated by doctors and psycho-oncologists.

Every caregiver who joins the support group continues to engage with the Foundation. They become volunteers to inspire others with their stories.

Contact 98847 26806 or email

Multiple Sclerosis

Recently, the Chennai chapter of Multiple Sclerosis Society of India resumed their in-person meet-ups after COVID-19 had forced them to go online. On the second Saturday of every month, the group meets up at a space inside the Bosch office on Greams Road. This routine is in place for more than two decades now.

In the last two years, the chapter moved online to host a range of activities, which include wellness programmes, spoken English and bilingual talk by an expert speaker.

“Symptoms of multiple sclerosis can sometimes be vague or varied, and so we reach out to communities and individuals to help identify MS and offer them help, starting from getting a doctor’s appointment to procuring medicines and offering tele-counselling on a regular basis,” says Ann Gonsalvez, a member of the Society.

The Society also offers scholarships to needy individuals.

Visit or call 99621 00256

Mental Health

On April 24, Mind Matters Circle, a peer support group for people with psycho-social vulnerabilities, will celebrate its fourth anniversary. Listening is the primary form of support offered to the survivors and caregivers. They are also taught coping strategies.

The mental health support group for survivors and caregivers meets both online and in-person, the latter generally being held during the fag end of a month. Besides, it maintains a WhatsApp group.

“Our meet-ups happen in a round-table model, in which everyone gets a chance to share their journey, ask questions or share their doubts relating to mental health,” says Saravana Raja of the support group. He says the group has helped people recover from suicidal thoughts. Anyone who has any sort of mental-health vulnerability or difficulty can join the group. Interested people can contact the Circle via email.

To join the group, write to

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