Another kind of group that is becoming increasingly common is the self-help group. Although not led by a professional therapist, the groups are therapeutic because members Ė usually ex-patients or the family member of people with various illnessesĖ provide continuing support as well as comfort in knowing that they arenít alone in the problems they face. These groups also serve other important functions. Families working together can more effectively serve as advocates for needed research and hospital and community treatment programs. Ex-patients as a group may be better able to dispel stigma and draw public attention to such abuses as discrimination against the formerly mentally ill.
Family and peer support and advocacy groups are now very active and provide useful information and assistance for patients and families of patients with schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill is composed exclusively of family groups, with 550 of them as of the end 1985 and adding about 150 to 200 new groups each year. The National Mental Health Association, the nationís oldest and largest non-governmental citizenís voluntary organization, is concerned with all aspects of mental disorders and mental health. The National Mental Health Consumersí Association, a network of self-help organizations across the country, now has about 150 affiliates and operates a Self-Help Clearinghouse. The Depression and Related Affective Disorders (DRADA) support groups are composed of people interested in help with various forms of Bipolar disorder and depression and has many free support groups, especially in the Maryland area where it started. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Gamblers Anonymous (GA) are for individuals with these respective problems; each offers multiple free self-help meetings in a variety of locations and times throughout the country. Al-Anon, Nar-Anon and Gam-Anon are for the respective family members of those afflicted with these addictions. Alateen is for teenagers with addictions issues, especially alcoholsm.
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
1901 North Fort Myer Drive, Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22209
National Mental Health Association
1021 Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-2971
The National Mental Health Consumersí Association
311 South Juniper Street, Room 902
Philadelphia, PA 19107
www.Mentalhealth.org - Knowledge Exchange Network
Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association (DRADA)
Meyer 3-181, 600 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21287-7381
Phone: (410) 955.4647 - Baltimore, MD
(202) 955.5800 - Washington, D.C.
Alcoholics Anonymous / AA
General Service Office
P.O. Box 459, Grand Central Station
New York, New York 10163
Narcotics Anonymous / NA
World Service Office
PO Box 9999
Van Nuys, CA 91409
Phone: (818) 773-9999
FAX: (818) 700-0700
International Service Office
P.O. Box 17173, Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 386-8789 - Fax (213) 386-0030
Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
1600 Corporate Landing Parkway
Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617
757-563-1600, Fax 757-563-1655
National Phone Number: 888/765-4885
Maryland Number: 410/876-4316
Gam-Anon International Service Office, Inc.
PO Box 157
Whitestone, NY 11357
- 410-938-3800 - 24 Hours / 365 Days