An analysis of support groups for the mentally ill as a psychiatric intervention strategy in South Africa.

Curationis

PubMedID: 9296919

Makhale MS, Uys LR. An analysis of support groups for the mentally ill as a psychiatric intervention strategy in South Africa. Curationis. 1997;20(1):44-9.
Support groups for the mentally ill in South Africa have functioned for more than ten years, and new ones are emerging, which shows that there is need for support groups in the community. Little is known about their structure, function and distribution. This study was an exploratory study which attempted to determine whether such groups could function as one of the intervention strategies in the community. The study investigated history, characteristics and activities of the existing support groups, and also examined failed support groups and areas where no support groups have been formed. A register of available support groups was compiled in the process. The sample consisted of fourteen functioning support groups, three unsuccessful support groups, one support group that had been recently initiated, and ten areas which had no support groups. Data collection was carried out by mailed questionnaires and telephonic questionnaires. The study shows that support groups have been in existence for a period ranging from four months to twenty years. The rendered assistance in advocacy and basic needs of their members, and also therapeutic intervention such as life skills teaching, crisis intervention, and counselling.