Evidence-Based Value and Availability of Self-Help Groups for Mood Disorders in U.S. and Ireland

Sunday, 30 July 2017: 12:40 PM

Valerie N. Markley, DNP, MSN, BSN, RN
School of Nursing, Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, IN, USA

Research validates a three-pronged approach as best practice for the treatment of mood disorders: medication (when warranted), therapy, and self-help. Peer support groups are a major option for self-help. Millions of individuals in the U.S. and around the world, including Ireland, are currently using and benefitting from self-help groups. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of such groups both short-term and long-term. Self-help groups are made up of individuals sharing similar problems and life situations. They provide emotional support to each other, share means of coping, learn new strategies for improvement, and suggest new resources and information on available providers. They share insights gained from first-hand experiences and promote hope and empowerment. Such groups are self-governed, cost-free, and readily available for every major disorder listed by the World Health Organization including both physical and emotional problems, habits and addictions, bereavement, and parenting. There are also groups for the significant others and supporters of those with the disorders. These groups are increasingly recognized as viable and efficient means of supplementing and extending typical care components. In addition, as it says in the AA Big Book (AA, 2002), in order to help yourself, you have to help others.

The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks depression (unipolar) as the fourth leading cause of disease burden, accounting for 4.4% of total DALY’s--disability-adjusted life-years (WHO, 2012). Authors conclude from this data that the burden of depression worldwide represents a major public health problem affecting clients and society at large. They note that although variations occur, trends and patterns of illness tend to be very similar throughout the world. Recent statistics from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) Study report a 12-month prevalence for all mood disorders in U.S. adults between the ages of 18-65 as 9.5% and having a lifetime prevalence of 20.8% (NIMH, 2011). The total economic impact of mood disorders is extreme and places an enormous burden on the health care industry. Millions of depressed individuals never receive treatment. Health care providers could refer their clients to self-help support groups as an additional resource for care.

This presentation will present evidence to support an understanding of and value for self-help support groups for mood disorders and compare and contrast self-help group resources for mood disorders available in the U.S. and Ireland, both Northern and Southern Ireland.