Everyone requires a social network to satisfy the human need to be cared for, accepted, and emotionally supported, particularly in times of stress.
Research has shown that strong social support may significantly improve recovery from both physical and mental illnesses.
Changes in society have diminished the traditional support once offered by neighbours and families.
As an alternative, self-help groups and mutual aid groups have sprung up throughout the country.
Some self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, focus on addictive behaviour.
Others act as advocates for certain segments of the population, such as the disabled and older people, or provide support for family members of people who have a severe mental illness.