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Psychiatr Serv. 2010 Jan;61(1):6-8. doi: 10.1176/

Law & psychiatry: Liability issues associated with referrals to self-help groups.

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  • 1Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Self-help groups, which are also referred to as mutual aid groups, are widely recognized as an important component of a comprehensive public mental health system that promotes recovery. Nonetheless, some psychiatrists and other providers have expressed concerns about these consumer-run groups and fear potential liability if they make referrals and something harmful occurs. This column reviews potential liability claims that could be made pertaining to referrals to self-help groups. The authors conclude that the likelihood of success of a plaintiff's claim is small. Recommendations are given for further lowering the likelihood of a successful suit.

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