The number of self-help groups in Saxony-Anhalt has remained constant at around 1,200. "There are smaller groups with 6 to 8 people, others have 20 or even more participants," explained Romy Kauss, the health and self-help officer at the Joint Welfare Association of Saxony-Anhalt. Some long-established self-help groups have dissolved, for example because of aging, illness, death or when a new line didn't work. On the other hand, there are many start-ups.
"In particular in the spectrum of mental illnesses, numerous new groups are emerging," said Kauss. Topics such as diabetes, cancer, long covid and post covid, addiction and caring relatives are also in increasing demand. This also applies to more social issues such as grief, bullying, loneliness and separation.
The self-help groups are free of charge, low-threshold and can be used without an application. This makes the offer attractive to many people. With the groups, those affected have the feeling that they are no longer alone, they can talk about their problems and benefit from the experiences of others.
In some self-help groups there are separate contact persons for "Young Self-Help". "Young people often want to come together in age-homogeneous groups. So there are also offers for the target group of 18 to 40 years. Unfortunately not that many and not across the board," Kauss continued. Many are looking for contact and exchange via the Internet, with some then wanting to meet in person.
Kauss assumes that the need for and interest in the topic of self-help will continue to increase. "Self-help has arrived in society and is also in high demand in rural areas." There is an urgent need for offers for non-mobile people. This applies to caring relatives, for example, who are often overburdened. They usually cannot come to a meeting of the groups because the journey takes a lot of time in rural areas. The need is "very, very large," said Kauss. From their point of view, there is a need for more contact points in the area.
The health insurance companies supported self-help in Saxony-Anhalt with around 1.4 million euros last year, as the AOK announced when asked. She is currently in charge of the Arge self-help promotion of the statutory health insurance in the state. Around half a million euros was intended directly for the self-help groups, a good 515,000 euros for self-help organizations and around 432,000 euros for the self-help contact points, which are contact points in the rural districts and urban districts. In addition to the flat-rate funding, the AOK supported specific offers such as lectures or excursions with a further 250,000 euros. In addition, she offers further training for leaders and representatives of the groups.
According to AOK, the proportion of funding for self-help groups could be significantly larger again this year. There was a slump in 2021 because the groups did not take place due to the corona and work had come to a standstill. The funding applications showed an upward trend again. The number of self-help groups has increased, especially when it comes to depression and long Covid.