The largest single sector of the mental health system in the USA is the self-help movement.

  • 40% of visits are to self-help,
  • 35% for formal mental health,
  • 8% for general medicine,
  • 17% for human service sector.

In the 1997 report there was estimated to be 10,000,000 current members of self-help groups in the United States.

  • 18.7% of adults have attended a self-help group in their lifetime.
  • 7.1% of adults attended a self-help group in the last 12 months.
  • 6.4% of Americans have attended a self-help group in their lifetime for a substance abuse issue. (One third of all self-help attends).
  • 2.5% of Americans have attended a self-help group in the last 12 months for a substance abuse issue. (One third of all self-help attends).

Substance abuse members attended on average 76 meetings per year. As a comparison people with eating problems only attended 12 meetings per year.

  • 70% of all self-help attendances were for a substance abuse issue.
  • 40% of all people who had ever attended a substance abuse related meeting were still doing so in the last 12 months.

Substance abuse members have a high rate of participation and continuity.

  • 75% of attendances at self-help groups are for substance abuse issues.
  • 25% of 25-34 year old people will attend a self-help group by their mid 30’s.
  • 13% of 25-34 year old people will attend a self-help group for substance abuse by their mid 30’s.

An increasing ratio of younger cohorts is attending substance abuse self-help groups.

In regards to substance abuse, a greater ratio of younger people than older people are likely to seek help for the same problem.

  • 46% of self-help attenders also see a professional.
  • 26% of non-self-help attenders see a professional.
  • 50% of substance abuse self-help attenders also see a professional.

The report indicated that self-help attenders use professional services in addition to rather than instead of professional services.

Self-help groups are growing at an annual rate of 8%.

People with a strong commitment to personal growth positively and significantly correlated with self-help for substance abuse problems.

Self-help participants of addiction focused groups are less likely to be married (ie, divorced, separated or ex-defacto) than non-participants.

Low social support and low marital satisfaction were correlates of self-help attendance.

A sense of personal control and neuroticism was not associated with self-help.

From; Kessler RC., Mickelson KD. & Zhao S. (1997) Patterns and Correlates of Self-Help Group Membership [excluded professionally led groups] in the United States. Social Policy: Spring, 1997, 27-46.

See also

Related Reading:

Mental Health Nursing (6th Edition)
Varcarolis' Foundations of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing: A Clinical Approach, 7e
CURRENT Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2014 (LANGE CURRENT Series)
Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Success: A Q&A Review Applying Critical Thinking to Test Taking (Psychiatric Mental Health Success)