Self Help Groups


***Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute to seek professional alternatives. EDL's aim is to provide useful information that may benefit some. As stated elsewhere we cannot help everybody, unfortunately.***

 

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Self Help Groups

   Self help groups are self governed and cost free.* They are comprised of people who share the same problem or illness.* Members of a group can more effectively give emotional support to others in the group. In addition members learn coping mechanisms that enable them to handle their illness or problems more effectively. There are downfalls to self help groups like members not showing up, self governance, relapsing, etc... In the end though research demonstrates that when people who share the same problem or illness come together (like in a self help group), usually positive outcomes occur.*

 

 For instance one study found that women participating in a self help group significantly extended their life span by around 18 months.* This study was conducted for ten years and consisted of 86 randomly assigned women who had metastatic breast cancer.* It has been speculated that the women lived longer because there was better support and encouragement given in the self help groups.* It is also speculated that the women better maintained their diet and routines because of the support and encouragement.*

 

 Another study has been done comparing self help groups and substance abuse relapses. It was found that participating in self help groups for some substance abusers, prevented a lot of relapses.* Participants in the study were examined every three years.* It is speculated that less relapses occurred because of the ongoing support of self help groups, and the ability of members to personally relate to problems. There are numerous additional studies that show the positive effects of self help groups. They are not a waste of time. EDL encourages you or a loved one to find a self help group. The positive effects of self help groups are subjective and range from months to years. The benefits maybe lifesaving though.

 

 So how can I join a self help group? It is dependent on the self help group you want. There are many areas to choose from. All EDL can do is offer some basic tips. There might already be a community organization established to provide help for your situation. If not, you can try your local community hospital. Most likely they will have a program set up for your condition too. If not you can use some of their resources to find people who have your condition. From there, a self help group can be formulated by you, a loved one, or someone else. We do realize it is a big task to start your own self help group from scratch. However your local community resources should be able to help. We hope the article has been useful.

 

*Wichita State University, (2000). Self Help Groups: Are They Effective? Center for Community Support and Research, 1,1-3.

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