Self-Help Group (SHG) is a small voluntary association of poor people, preferably from the same socio-economic background. They come together for the purpose of solving their common problems through self-help and mutual help. The SHG promotes small savings among its members. The savings are kept with a bank. This common fund is in the name of the SHG. Usually, the number of members in one SHG does not exceed twenty.
Self-help groups, also known as mutual help, mutual aid, or support groups, are groups of people who provide mutual support for each other. In a self-help group, the members share a common problem, often a common disease or addiction. Their mutual goal is to help each other to deal with, if possible to heal or to recover from, this problem. While Michael K. Bartalos (1992) has pointed out the contradictory nature of the terms “self-help” and “support,” the former U.S. surgeon general C. Everett Koop has said that self-help brings together two central but disparate themes of American culture, individualism and cooperation (“Sharing Solutions” 1992).
In traditional society, family and friends provided social support. In modern industrial society, however, family and community ties are often disrupted due to mobility and other social changes. Thus, people often choose to join with others who share mutual interests and concerns. In 1992, almost one in three Americans reported involvement in a support group; more than half of these were Bible study groups (“According to a Gallup Poll” 1992). Of those not involved in a self-help group at the time, more than 10 percent reported past involvement, while another 10 percent desired future involvement. It has been estimated that there are at least 500,000 to 750,000 groups with 10 million to 15 million participants in the United States (Katz 1993) and that more than thirty self-help centers and information clearinghouses have been