How do young people with mental health issues engage in social change? An explication of participation in self-help support groups

Dadich, Ann (2006) How do young people with mental health issues engage in social change? An explication of participation in self-help support groups. In Social Change in the 21st Century Conference 2006, 27 October 2006, Carseldine, Brisbane.


This paper proposes that young people who are disenfranchised from mainstream society may demonstrate social change in non-conventional ways. It explores the experiences of 53 Australian young people with mental health issues who participated in Self-Help Support Groups through the course of recovery. Since the height of the self-help movement, these groups have proven to be an important vehicle for disenfranchised populations, particularly those with mental health issues. Group participants are said to experience personal development making it possible for many to engage in advocacy and/or lobbying efforts. However, this study appears to challenge the role of SHSGs as a means toward conventional understandings of social change. Through open ended, semi-structured interviews, the young people suggested that the groups have much to offer; however, they did not explicitly engage in socio-political activities. But rather, some spoke of supporting and advocating for fellow participants, which facilitated change in self-identity – not only for the recipient of support, but also for the young person who traditionally received human services. Additionally, mere participation in a research project in the hope to challenge stereotypical views about SHSGs, particularly among human service providers, might also be regarded as a form of socio-political activity. This paper thus argues that the landscape of community-based socio-political activity may be changing, particularly among Australian young people with mental health issues. This constitutes a significant research finding as it offers valuable direction to those wanting to engage this population in efforts toward meaningful social change in the 21st century.

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ID Code: 6087
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: Young people, mental health, Self, Help Support Group
ISBN: 1741071291
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Change (160805)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Ann Dadich
Deposited On: 08 Feb 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:37

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