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Best Practices for Providers
Trauma Informed Care
National Registry for Evidence Based Programs and Practices (NREPP)
Cost of Homelessness
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Youth Drop-in Centers
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Health and Wellness
Health and Poverty
Substance Use and Addiction
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HRC Feature Articles
Since the late 1970s, mental health and substance use organizations have promoted consumer integration in an effort to create recovery-oriented environments. Consumer integration promotes the recovery values of empowerment, peer support, and hope and contributes to creating person-centered, trauma-informed program environments. The growth of the mental health consumer self-help movement, the Federal Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) Community Support Program, and the development of person-oriented policies for people with mental illnesses at the Federal level (Van Tosh, 1993) have led to increased levels of consumer participation and involvement. In 2003, the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health report called for consumers to be involved in planning, delivering, and evaluating mental health services. Since the late 1970s, mental health and substance use organizations have promoted consumer integration in an effort to create recovery-oriented environ...
ments. Consumer integration promotes the recovery values of empowerment, peer support, and hope and contributes to creating person-centered, trauma-informed program environments. The growth of the mental health consumer self-help movement, the Federal Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) Community Support Program, and the development of person-oriented policies for people with mental illnesses at the Federal level (Van Tosh, 1993) have led to increased levels of consumer participation and involvement. In 2003, the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health report called for consumers to be involved in planning, delivering, and evaluating mental health services.
Consumers can act as recovery ambassadors, conveying messages of hope and the possibility of having a rich, fulfilling life that extends beyond day-to-day survival. Their lived experience and unique perspective can inform service delivery and impact organizational culture. Consumers working in service settings as providers can help create systems that are responsive and sensitive to the needs of those receiving services. Through their work, consumers gain a greater sense of self-worth, well being, autonomy, increased self-knowledge, and improved communication skills (Mowbray, Moxley, and Collins, 1998).
There are challenges to consumer integration, which can include stigma and discrimination, boundary issues, stress, burnout, and financial and scheduling concerns. (Consumer Practitioners in PATH-funded Programs, 2006). Ethical concerns like confidentiality and setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries can be complex challenges when people work as staff or volunteers at the same agency from which they concurrently receive services. Some successful strategies employed by PATH programs to address these challenges include: creating consumer-designated positions; involving people with experiences of homelessness in governance; allowing flexible scheduling; and participating in trainings to support an agency-wide recovery-orientation (Portraits of Commitment, 2008).
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Selected Consumer Integration Resources
A Guide to Consumer Involvement: Improving the Quality of Ambulatory HIV Programs
Consumer Advisory Board Manual for Health Care for the Homeless Projects
Consumer Drop-in Centers: Operations, Services and Consumer Involvement
Consumer Integration and Self-determination in Homelessness Research, Policy, Planning and Services
Consumer Practitioners in PATH-funded Programs: Report of the Consumer Involvement Workgroup
How to Develop and Maintain a Consumer Advisory Board
HRC Webcast Resources: Consumer Integration: Everyone is Talking About It, But How Do We Get It Done? Next Steps to Creating Recovery-Oriented Environments
HRC Webcast Resources: Consumer Integration: Why it Matters, How it Works
Mental Health Consumer Providers: A Guide for Clinical Staff
Ten Tips for Involving Consumers as Colleagues in Homelessness Services
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