Mutual Help Groups for Mental Health Problems: A Review of Effectiveness Studies

  title={Mutual Help Groups for Mental Health Problems: A Review of Effectiveness Studies},
  author={Nancy Pistrang and Chris Barker and Keith N Humphreys},
  journal={American Journal of Community Psychology},
This paper reviews empirical studies on whether participating in mutual help groups for people with mental health problems leads to improved psychological and social functioning. To be included, studies had to satisfy four sets of criteria, covering: (1) characteristics of the group, (2) target problems, (3) outcome measures, and (4) research design. The 12 studies meeting these criteria provide limited but promising evidence that mutual help groups benefit people with three types of problems… 

The Contributions of Mutual Help Groups for Mental Health Problems to Psychological Well-Being: A Systematic Review

This chapter systematically reviews empirical studies on whether participating in mutual help groups for mental health problems leads to improved psychological and social functioning. It first

Involvement in mental health self-help groups and recovery

  • F. Markowitz
  • Psychology
    Health sociology review : the journal of the Health Section of the Australian Sociological Association
  • 2015
Using two-wave survey data from a sample of 553 persons with mental illnesses in self-help groups and outpatient services, it is found that ‘social selection’ effects – persons with greater symptoms and lower quality of life are less likely to be a part of self- help groups.

"It's about liberation" : community development support for groups of black people with mental health problems

Disproportionately high numbers of Black people use mental health services and experience involuntary treatment in the UK. There is no simple explanation, but research and policy suggest that groups

A systematic review and meta-analysis of group peer support interventions for people experiencing mental health conditions

Findings from the few eligible trials suggest that group peer support interventions may be specifically effective for supporting personal recovery and have a limited impact on other outcomes, though there were some risks of bias to study findings.

The contribution of self-help/mutual aid groups to mental well-being.

The authors suggest that policy-makers engage with local people, investing in support proportionate to the needs of different populations, enabling them to develop their own self-help/mutual aid groups to enhance their sense of mental well-being.

A review of the literature on peer support in mental health services

The literature demonstrates that PSWs can lead to a reduction in admissions among those with whom they work, and has the potential to drive through recovery-focused changes in services.

Peer support for people with schizophrenia or other serious mental illness.

The current body of evidence is insufficient to either refute or support the use of peer-support interventions for people with schizophrenia and other mental illness.

Mental health self-help

This book discusses the contribution of self-Help groups to the Mental Health/Substance Use Services System, and how Governments and Other Funding Sources can Facilitate Self-Help Research and Services.

Evaluation of Ongoing Participation of People with Schizophrenia in a Mutual Support Group as a Complementary Intervention to Outpatient Psychiatric Treatment

The data point to more favorable results in the mutual support group, showing that ongoing participation in these groups is an important tool for the recovery process and for the treatment itself.

Sitting with others: mental health self-help groups in northern Ghana

The organisation of SHGs appears to be associated with positive outcomes for service users and caregivers, however, there is a need to better understand how SHGs operate and the challenges they face.



Who talks? The social psychology of illness support groups.

Support seeking was highest for diseases viewed as stigmatizing and was lowest for less embarrassing but equally devastating disorders, such as heart disease, and implications for social comparison theory and its applications in health care are discussed.

Does Mutual Help Facilitate Newly Bereaved Widowers?

Studies have demonstrated the efficacy of mutual-help interventions for bereaved women, but there have been no controlled intervention studies of this type for men. The objective of this study was to


The purpose of this chapter is to help correct this problem by summarizing the best research supporting the effectiveness of self-help groups in a brief and clear fashion.

Service providers' views of psychiatric mutual support groups

It was found that being a rehabilitation worker and possessing more advanced training, greater numbers of years in their setting and discipline, and personal experience with psychiatric disorders or mutual support were associated with more favorable attitudes and behaviors toward mutual support.

Social support interventions: do they work?

Peer Support Among Individuals with Severe Mental Illness

The history and potential effectiveness of peer support among persons with severe mental illness is reviewed, and issues entailed in participating in peer support for this population are discussed, and the implications for future policy, research, and practice are discussed.

Why is self-help neglected in the treatment of emotional disorders? A meta-analysis

Bibliotherapy for clinically significant emotional disorders is more effective than waiting list or no treatment conditions and the dearth of studies on self- help groups for emotional disorders does not permit an evidence-based conclusion concerning the effects of self-help groups.

Encouraging People With Mood Disorders to Attend a Self-Help Group1

Using an intervention based on referent power, self-help sponsors sought to encourage attendance at self-help meeting. They encouraged patients with major depression or bipolar disorder to attend

Effects of self-efficacy and social support on the mental health conditions of mutual-aid organization members

The present study examined the effects of self-efficacy and social support on the mental health of 65 members of a mutual-aid organization in Hong Kong. Participants had anxiety and depressive

The Benefits of Mutual Support Groups for Parents of Children With Disabilities

This study examined what parents of children with disabilities and special needs found helpful about belonging to mutual support groups and found such support was helpful in three broad domains: the sociopolitical, the interpersonal, and the intraindividual.