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How to Start a Thyroid Support Group
Tips on Creating a Support Organization In Your Area

by Mary Shomon

Tracy Green, a thyroid patient in Michigan, has created a successful and active thyroid support group with nearly 150 members in her area. I asked her to share with some ideas on how others can start their own active and thriving support groups, and here are some of her excellent recommendations.

  1. Think of a name for the group, for example, Thyroid Disorders or Thyroid Interest Group or Thyroid Educational Group.
  2. Find a place to hold the meetings. Most libraries have meetings rooms that are often free to non-profit groups. Look at hospitals too.
  3. Advertise the group in local newspapers, most newspapers have a health section with a datebook, calendar or an area for support groups. It's a free service the paper offers.
  4. Make up flyers to post in pharmacy or lab offices or waiting rooms.
  5. Post information about your support group at the About.com Thyroid site's Top Doctors and Support Groups area, in the "Sticking Out Our Necks Thyroid News Report, and other sites. (i.e., Endocrineweb.com has a support group area.)
  6. Get local newspapers to write stories on thyroid disorders and health newspapers.
  7. Local hospitals have a health calendar, get listed there under support groups.
  8. Use word of mouth to publicize your group.
  9. Get local endocrinologist to speak at meetings and other health professionals. They will speak for free if you ask them.
  10. Call pharmaceutical companies to request free flyers on thyroid disorders and their thyroid medications.
  11. Get a web site. There are alot of free sites that nonprofit group can get.
  12. Call the Thyroid Society and Thyroid Foundation to get on their lists of support groups.
  13. Call hospitals and get on their list of support groups. Most hospitals have a help line that you can call for a referral or nurse help.
I also print a newsletter twice a year and send it out. To cover the cost, I ask for donations. I have never had a problem with that. The newsletter has clips for the internet and links to Mary's site. I also ask people in the group if they want to write anything for the newsletter.

We have a "Top Doc" list and a list of doctors that prescribe the T4/T3 procol and drugs like Armour Thyrolar.

I have a huge book of things I've printed off the internet or received from the Thyroid Foundation or Thyroid Society.

I bring books that I've read on the thyroid for members to look through.

I have a list of good web sites.

I know the first months are full of alot of work getting set up and running. But now I just answer phone calls and emails and look for information for others and line up doctors. I 'd say I spend about a 1/2 hr to an hour a day working on the group.

Why did I start this group. I was very sick from not being treated right by my doctor. I soon got better, after seeing seven doctors, and decided that they are others that are going through what I am. I felt this was important for me and others to learn more on the thyroid. And where else can you learn from the doctors -- they usually don't have time in the office to educate you. At our meetings, the doctors speak for 1 1/2 hrs and answer questions. Everyone learns something.

We now have 145 people in our group and it grows everyday. There are alot of people with thyroid disorders and more that don't know they have one. My goal is to educate the group on their disorders and educate the doctors that speak, so they can understand how we feel and how we aren't getting better on their treatments. And to help others don't know they have thyroid problems to get the information they need and to look for help. Tracy Green
Michigan Thyroid Disorder Support Group
http://community.mlive.com/cc/thyroid
mitsg@mediaone.net

For more information:

The following sites are not thyroid-specific, but feature excellent advice on how to get a support group started that is applicable to anyone starting a support group for a health condition.

Sticking Out Our Necks and this website are Copyright Mary Shomon, 1997-2003. All rights reserved. Mary Shomon, Editor/Webmaster
All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician or health practitioner before starting a new treatment program. Please see our full disclaimer.