Find directories of available help:

Support / self-help groups

 

 

If you or someone you know struggle with mental health problems, there are ways to get help. Support- and self-helps groups is an important addition to treatment and therapy for mental health problems, which can provide opportunies for social contact and connectedness, motivation to change, and information, guidance and support on the road to recovery.

Photo: by Becca Tapert on Unsplash


 

Different forms of support

Social support is essential for maintaining both physical and mental health [Ozbay et al., 2007][1] .

A range of support services are available for the public [Mind, 2017][2] . Support is different from psychotherapy in that it consists of more informal contact, it can happen on a broad range of areas, and it can take many different forms.

Self-help groups are a form of mental health support, that include everything from providing a safe and supportive social environment among individuals with mutal problem areas; to more or less structured group meetings.

Granting access to a careful listner, information and guidance relating to how to use available help services are other forms of mental health support. 

Online communities and forums are other examples.

 

Does support services and self-help groups make you better?

While it is difficult to know the effectiveness of such services, due to very different compositions of support and self-help services, the research generally show the self-help groups may have important benefits for the participants [Kurouz et al., 2002][3] .

 

Other types of help

Apart from support and self-help groups, a range of other services might be helpful in relation to mental health problems. Some examples are:

 

  1. Psychotherapy

     

    find-help-mental-health-problems

     

    Psychotherapy / treatment is a process characterized by a time-limited contact between a therapist and a patient / client, in which specific problems are thematized and worked with. Include different therapeutic traditions (for example cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, family therapy, and more)

    A useful source that evaluate the effectiveness of specific therapies for different mental health problems is the website to the Cochrane Institute [Cochrane Institute][4] .

     

  2. Online therapy

     

    find-help-mental-health-problems

     

    Online therapy is similar to traditional therapy or treatment, but is provided by digital means (either phone, video conference, or similar). Digital interventions can include a broader range of options, such as therapist-guided self-help programs online.

    The current research literature provide strong support for the adoption of online psychological interventions as a legitimate therapeutic activity [Barak et al., 2008][5] .

     

  3. Helplines and chats

     

    find-help-mental-health-problems

     

    Different helplines and chats exist. Some helplines are specialized in providing you with information and guidance, while others are more specialized in providing emotional support. Some helplines are highly professional, while others are more based on voluntary workers, that merely wish to be a caring listener.

    It is difficult to evalute how effective such services are, and it probably depends on many factors. For example, while the state of the science regarding the effectiveness of crisis response services remains limited, overall results provide support for such services [Hoffberg et al, 2020][6] .

     

  4. Online communities and forums

     

    find-help-mental-health-problems

     

    Online communities and forums are options to get in contact with other individuals that struggle with something similar to you or someone you know. Some communities are moderated by professional health workers, while most of them are not.

    Online communities is traditionally not understood as a support or health service, but rather a social area - that may have the potential of being supportive for the individual that uses it. Importantly, research has shown that "people with serious mental illness report benefits from interacting with peers online from greater social connectedness, feelings of group belonging and by sharing personal stories and strategies for coping with day-to-day challenges of living with a mental illness. Within online communities, individuals with serious mental illness could challenge stigma through personal empowerment and providing hope. By learning from peers online, these individuals may gain insight about important health care decisions, which could promote mental health care seeking behaviours" [Naslund et al., 2016][7] .

    This seems to indicate that online communites should not be underevaluated as a potential resource to recovery, coping and enhanced quality of life for people affected by mental health problems.

     

 

Find support and self-help groups

Please choose your location to find support and self-help groups where you live:

 

References & Footnotes
  1. Ozbay et al., 2007: Ozbay, F., Johnson, D. C., Dimoulas, E., Morgan III, C. A., Charney, D., & Southwick, S. (2007). Social support and resilience to stress: from neurobiology to clinical practice. Psychiatry (Edgmont)4(5), 35.
  2. Mind, 2017: Mind (2017). Understanding mental health. Retrieved 12th of February 2021 from: https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/2942/mental-health-problems-introduction-2017.pdf
  3. Kurouz et al., 2002: Kyrouz, E. M., Humphreys, K., & Loomis, C. (2002). A review of research on the effectiveness of self-help mutual aid groups. British Journal of Clinical Psychology33, 198-200.
  4. Cochrane Institute: Cochrane Institute: "Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health." Retrieved 9th of February 2020 from: https://www.cochrane.org/
  5. Barak et al., 2008: Barak, A., Hen, L., Boniel-Nissim, M., & Shapira, N. A. (2008). A comprehensive review and a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of internet-based psychotherapeutic interventions. Journal of Technology in Human services26(2-4), 109-160.
  6. Hoffberg et al, 2020: Hoffberg, A. S., Stearns-Yoder, K. A., & Brenner, L. A. (2020). The effectiveness of crisis line services: A systematic review. Frontiers in public health7, 399.
  7. Naslund et al., 2016: Naslund, J. A., Aschbrenner, K. A., Marsch, L. A., & Bartels, S. J. (2016). The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media. Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences25(2), 113-122.

Also read