Research Shows Self-Help Works

Self-Help Support Groups targeting mental health issues:

  • Cut the re-hospitalization of mental health consumers by 50% (4) (7) (10) (12) (16) (19)
  • Reduce the number of days spent in the hospital by one third (4) (10) (19)
  • Reduce significantly the amount of medication needed to treat mental illness (4) (6) (19)
  • Move large numbers of people out of the system into productive lives (4) (19)
  • Empower participants to collaborate with clinical staff resulting in better adherence to medication regimes (12) (16)
  • Effects are realized in weeks and sustained for years (4) (6) (16) (19) (22)
  • Reduce drug and alcohol abuse (9) (11) (14) (18) (23)
  • Reduce demands on clinicians’ time (8) (16)
  • Increase empowerment (4) (6) (16) (19) (20)
  • Provide community support—the suspected reason that people in developing countries recover from schizophrenia at nearly twice the rate that they do in developed countries (16) (24)
  • Provide mentoring opportunities that improve the outcomes of both the mentor and the person being mentored (5) (17) (21)
  • Reduce criminal behavior (14) (23)
  • Increase family resources and reduce family stress (3)
  • Increase consumer satisfaction (8) (16)
  • Are underutilized by clinicians because of incorrect preconceived ideas about self-help and the lack of professional training on self-help (16) (22)

Self-Help Bibliography

  1. Bond, G.R. (2001) “Implementing Supported Employment as an Evidenced-Based Practice” Psychiatric Services 52(3):313-322.
  2. Campbell, J & Leaver, J. (2003)  Emerging New Practices In Organized Peer Support  Alexandria, VA:  National Technical Assistance Center for State Mental Health Planning and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.
  3. Cook, J. A. et al (1999)”The Effect of Support Group Participation on Caregiver Burden Among Parents of Adult Offspring with Severe Mental Illness” Family Relations 48:405-410.
  4. Edmunson, E.D. et al (1982) “Integrating Skill Building and Peer Support in Mental Health Treatment” in Jeger, G. and Slotnick, R.S. (eds) Community Mental Health and Behavioral Ecology New York:Plenum Press pp. 127-139
  5. Emrick, C. D. et al (1993) “Alcoholics Anonymous: What is currently known?” in McCrady, B. S. and Miller, W. R. (eds) Research on Alcoholics Anonymous: Opportunities and Alternatives New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies pp. 41-75.
  6. Finn, Lizzie (no date) “Mutual Help Groups and psychological wellbeing: A study of GROW, a community mental health organization” Paper distributed on the Self-Help Researchers’ listserv.
  7. Galanter, M. (1988) “Zealous Self-Help Groups as Adjuncts to Psychiatric Treatment: A Study of Recovery, Inc.” American Journal of Psychiatry 145(10):1248-1253.
  8. Hodges, J. Q. et al (2003) “Use of Self-Help Services and Consumer Satisfaction with Professional Mental Health Services” Psychiatric Services Vol 54 No. 8 1161-1163.
  9. Humphreys, K. & Moos, R. (2001) “Can encouraging substance abuse patients to participate in self-help groups reduce demand for health care?” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 25:711-716.
  10. Kennedy, M. (1990) Psychiatric Hospitalizations of GROWers. Paper presented at the Second Biennial Conference on Community Research and Action, East Lansing, Michigan.
  11. Kingree, J. B. & Thompson, M. (2000) Mutual help Groups, Perceived Status Benefits, and Well-Being: A Test with Adult Children of Alcoholics with Personal Substance Abuse Problems” American Journal of Community Psychology 28:325-342.
  12. L. F. (1988) “Mutual Aid for Affective Disorders: The Manic Depressive and Depressive Association.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 58(1):152-155.
  13. Lieberman, M. & Snowden, L. (1994). “Problems in Assessing Prevalence and Membership Characteristics of Self-Help Group Participants.”  In Powel, T. (ed) Understanding The Self-Help Organization:  Frameworks And Findings pp. 32-49.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  14. McAuliffe, W. E. (1990) “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Recovery and Self-Help for Opiod Addicts in New England and Hong Kong” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 22(2): 197-209.
  15. Mental Health Policy Resource Center (1991) “The Growing Mental Health Self-Help Movement.” Policy In Perspective  Washington, D.C.
  16. National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (1999) National DMDA Support Group Survey: Does Participation in a support group increase treatment compliance? Chicago: DMDA
  17. Powell, T.J. et al (2000) “Encouraging people with mood disorders to attend a self-help group” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 30:2270-2288.
  18. Pisani, V. D. et al (1993) “The Relative Contributions of Medication Adherence and AA Meeting Attendance to Abstinent Outcome for Chronic Alcoholics” Journal of Studies on Alcohol 54:115-119.
  19. Raiff, N.D. (1984) “Some Health Related Outcomes of Self-Help Participation: Recovery, Inc. as a Case Example of a Self-Help Organization in Mental Health” in Gartner, A. and Riessman, F. (eds) The Self-Help Revolution New York: Human Sciences Press pp. 183-193.
  20. Roberts, L. J. et al (1999) “Giving and Receiving Help: Interpersonal Transactions in Mutual-Help Meetings and Psychosocial Adjustment of Members” American Journal of Community Psychology 27:841-868.
  21. Sisson, R. W. (1981) “The Use of Systematic Encouragement and Community Access Procedures to Increase Attendance at Alcoholic Anonymous and Al-Anon Meetings” American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 8(3):371-376
  22. Snyder, M. D. and Weyer, M.E. (2000) “Collaboration and Partnership:Nursing Education and Self-Help Groups” Nursing Connections Vol. 13 No. 1 Spring
  23. Watson, C. G. et al (1997) “A Comparative Outcome Study of Frequent, Moderate, Occasional, and Non-attenders of Alcoholics Anonymous” Journal of Clinical Psychology 53:209-214.
  24. The World Health Report (2001) “Schizophrenia” in Mental Health: New Understanding, New Hope.

SHARE! Offers Research Opportunities

SHARE! makes a special effort to partner with researchers as all of SHARE!’s programs are informed by research.   Past collaborations include: a) SHARE! arranging for surveys to be filled out by 100 to 200 SHARE! participants, b) reviewing manuscripts on self-help related topics, c) being primary informants for promising self-help support group practices and d) allowing students to study SHARE!’s structure and management.  If you have an idea, we are happy to discuss it with you! Call (310) 846-5270 to speak to someone today regarding how SHARE! can partner with you on your research.

Want More Information?
Call 1-877-SHARE-49 or write