Scientific studies, including one random-assignment study, show that people involved in mental health self-help groups are hospitalized 50% less than people in comparable community programs without self-help. The monetary savings from this alone are immense.
In 1993 the New York State Office of Mental Health, Bureau of Evaluation and Services Research, under the guidance of Edward Knight, Ph.D and Sharon Carpinello, RN, PH.D., conducted a study of Self-Helf Group Leaders. 158 group leaders participated in the study which showed that because of self-help:
- 80% of the groups reported that their members stay out of the hospital more because of self help
- 80% of the groups reported that their members are holding a job
- 90% of the groups reported that their members are living more independently and are assuming more responsibility
- 70% of the groups reported that their members have better family ties
- 70% of the groups reported that their members are getting an education.
The Center for the Study of Issues in Public Mental Health conducted research on self-help in 1995, (n=683) and found that:
- Self-help length of membership and level of activity are positively associated with higher self-esteem and higher confidence of recovery.
- Higher self-esteem and higher confidence of recovery are positively associated with reduction in symptoms and a return of employment.
Self-help is cost-effective! By providing individuals with a low or no-cost alternative to resolving concerns, self-help groups can greatly decrease the need for more costly types of services.
Self-help is an adjunct and/or follow-up to therapy. While therapy with a trained professional can be important, sometimes the best help comes from someone who “knows just how you feel.”
Self-help groups provide a social support system, especially in conditions that isolate people. People benefit from communicating with others who are experiencing the same feelings: a person who has coped with a problem can be more helpful than someone using theoretical knowledge and, when one person helps another, they both benefit.