Over the past decade self-help groups have become an important way of helping people cope with various life crises. Groups have organized to help individual members deal with a wide range of health-related and other problems. The authors define the meaning of self-help in such groups and describe the range of groups now available, including a number of mental-health-related groups. The part self-help groups play in providing social support, preventing illness and death, and reducing the need for hospitalization is discussed. The authors also examine the role of professionals in initiating and working with such groups. They point to self-help groups as one means of meeting the increasing demands placed on health and mental health service systems during the 1980s.