Service Providers' Views of Psychiatric Mutual Support Groups

Published in: Journal of Community Psychology, v. 30, no. 4, July 2002, p. 349-366

by Matthew Chinman, Bret Kloos, Maria O'Connell, Larry Davidson

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Despite evidence that mutual support groups can be beneficial for those with serious mental illnesses, professionals have been reluctant to utilize this resource. We surveyed over 400 providers across several disciplines and settings within the state of Connecticut's public mental health system to assess their attitudes and practices regarding the use of mutual support groups for their patients. We found that being a rehabilitation worker and possessing more advanced training, greater numbers of years in their setting and discipline, and personal experience with psychiatric disorders or mutual support were associated with more favorable attitudes and behaviors toward mutual support. In addition, traditional 12-step groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous) were viewed more favorably than psychiatric mutual support groups. Implications for educational efforts about the benefits of mutual support for those with serious mental illnesses are discussed.

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