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Self-help groups

bildOver the past 10 to 20 years, the psychiatric self-help movement has rapidly progressed in the German-speaking countries. That which psychiatrists only a few decades ago considered to be fully irresponsible is today already seen to be routine in the local and regional provinces: Psychologically ill individuals have grounded unions, organised aid and, in many sites, are members of committees associated with the communal psychiatric health-care systems. An essential task of self-help and of self-help groups lies in the mutual support and the exchange of experiences between persons who are affected and/or their relatives. The experiences of grief and life in individuals undergoing self-help provide an insight concerning the relationship of other individuals suffering from such an illness, demonstrate other modes of solutions and also other similar problems, for which other solutions have perhaps been found to exist. Simultaneously, they offer the possibility for "emotional contact", since all partners have frequently had to or will have lived through similar processes involving their suffering.

The participation in self-help groups

  • counteracts a possible social isolation,
  • helps to surmount social and personal burdens,
  • occurs in an atmosphere characterised by mutual understanding, since each individual in the active group is affected.
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