Online Self-Help/Mutual Aid Groups in Mental Health Practice
An ever-expanding number of online self-help mutual aid groups are available to provide information and support over the Internet for a wide variety of social and mental health issues. They offer advantages to consumers since they are not bound to time, place, or social presence. Research supports their benefits in areas of health, mental health, addictions, stigmatized identities, trauma and violence recovery, and grief support. Harm may also come from participation in these groups due to disinhibited communication, privacy concerns, and misinformation. Mental health practitioners need to be knowledgeable about these groups as both sources of additional support and potential stressors for consumers. Future development of online support through social networking sites and virtual communities will become new resources for consumers.
KeywordsMental Health Physical Space Mental Health Professional Social Networking Site Virtual Community
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