Saturday, 15 January 2005 - 2:00 PM
This presentation is part of: Recovery from Severe Mental Illness
Users Of Self-Help Services In The Professional Mental Health System: How Do They Compare To Those Who Do Not Use Self-Help?John Q. Hodges, PhD, University of Missouri-Columbia.
Purpose: Self-help services have become increasingly prevalent in mental health; consumers now deliver many services once provided by professional mental health agencies. Methods: This exploratory study in one large midwestern state examines differences among self-help users and non self-help users in a representative sample of 311 consumers of professional mental health services. Half of these consumers used self-help. Self-help services ranged from formally structured consumer-run mental health self-help agencies to more loosely structured support groups. All function under the helping technology of mutual support. Mutual support is the technology whereby someone with experiential knowledge of a mental illness helps another with their illness. Both parties benefit, as the helper gets to “give back” while helping someone else. The two groups (self-help compared to non self-help) were compared on a number of dimensions related to their utilization of and satisfaction with professional mental health services. Results: Self-help users reported more barriers to service, and rated services as less useful, but also perceived services as more available and used more services when compared to non self-help users. No differences between the two groups were found in the areas of demographics, affordability of services, and satisfaction with services. Findings related to policy and practice: As practitioners and policy-makers, it is important to know what characteristics of persons with mental illnesses will best predict service success. This study points out several areas of difference between those who use self-help services and those who do not, but further research with larger, randomized samples is needed to determine if these findings are replicable, and what their implications may be for the best allocation of service resources to consumers. Finally, consumer involvement in all stages of research on self-help and consumer-operated services is essential. While consumer involvement in this study meant that we did not have a diagnostic variable, it also helped ensure that the study was sensitive to the concerns and needs of the consumers who made this research possible.
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