Clients and facilitators experiences of participating in a Hong Kong self-help group for people recovering from mental illness

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, Pakistan


The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of self-help groups in the rehabilitation of people recovering from mental illness. A qualitative approach was adopted, with individual interviews of 12 clients and four focus group interviews of 22 professionals and volunteers, in a Hong Kong self-help organization. Three major categories emerged from the client interviews: the meaning of self-help; experience of self-help group involvement; and changes in life. The major categories which emerged from the focus groups were: the meaning of self-help; therapeutic factors; therapeutic process; facilitators’ expectation; and difficulties encountered. Results indicated that self-help group involvement provided positive experiences for the members and led to some changes in their lives which contribute to the rehabilitation of their illness. Meanwhile, the professionals’ and volunteers’ view of the use of self-help groups was found to coincide with previous literature. Moreover, a spiritual dimension was expressed by all respondents as one of the factors that enhanced the group cohesiveness. It was concluded that self-help group involvement is beneficial to psychiatric rehabilitation. Findings have implications for further utilization of self-help groups for the people recovering from mental illness, as an alternative form of health care to complement the inadequacies in the present health care system.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing