On Our Own, Together
Peer Programs for People with Mental Illness
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: Vanderbilt University Press
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Tables and Figures
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First, thanks go to Maine researcher Ruth Ralph, who made my work on this book possible. When I lost my affiliation with the PEER Center and thus with the Consumer Operated Services Program study (the COSP study), she organized the book project so that I could continue as editor. Many of the other principal investigators—including Susan Essock, Tom Summerfelt, Mark Salzer, Patrick Corrigan, and Sally Rogers—pitched in to support us. ...
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This book is written by and for persons who have experienced what is generally known as “mental illness.” We write in the tradition of On Our Own, a groundbreaking book by Judi Chamberlin (1978) that gave expression in the 1970s to a movement of people—sometimes called “consumers,” “survivors,” or “ex-patients”—who sought compassionate alternatives to the mental health system through peer-run programs. ...
Chapter 1: About Us: What We Have in Common
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In the winter of 1998, mental health consumers from eight different states met in Washington, DC, to join researchers and government representatives to begin a four-year federal study of the workings of peer-run programs. The Consumer Operated Services Program, known as the COSP study, was a large, multi-site project to examine successful programs run entirely by mental health consumers for their peers—adults with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and other serious mental illnesses. ...
Chapter 2: The Historical and Philosophical Development of Peer-Run Support Programs
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The general public thinks of people with mental illness as the quintessential “Other”—persons who represent the subterranean depths of humanity and whose differentness makes us not really human at all. It is common practice to call us by our diagnoses rather than our names. Usually we are simply referred to as “the mentally ill.” ...
Chapter 3: Mental Health Client Action Network (MHCAN), Santa Cruz, California
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The Mental Health Client Action Network (MHCAN) is a drop-in center in Santa Cruz, California, run by adults diagnosed with major mental disorders who want to create a healing place for themselves and their peers. Our program began in the 1970s as part of an anti-psychiatry political group and evolved through four historical phases to become a contractor providing consumer-operated services for North County Mental Health in Santa Cruz, California. ...
Chapter 4: The Portland Coalition for the Psychiatrically Labeled, Portland, Maine
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The Portland Coalition for the Psychiatrically Labeled is a consumer-run drop-in center in Portland, Maine. We are currently located in the center of downtown Portland, easily accessed by most members since we are in walking distance for them. The drop-in is a fifteen hundred square foot, one-floor building that I would have to say resembles an overly wide hallway with only one bathroom. ...
Chapter 5: The St. Louis Empowerment Center, St. Louis, Missouri
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... The center is located in downtown St. Louis, in the basement of a mansion built in the 1890s that was originally the home of a lumber baron. The three-story brick building has interior woodwork imported from Germany and four stained glass windows. The St. Louis Mental Health Association (MHA) purchased the building in the 1980s and restored it. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of St. Louis (DBSA) ( formerly, the Depressive and Manic Depressive Association) now occupies the first ...
Chapter 6: PEER Center, Inc., Oakland Park, Florida
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The PEER Center in Oakland Park, Florida, is a thriving consumer operated drop-in center with an active membership of over one thousand consumers, a mailing list of three thousand, and a staff of forty. It is the largest consumer-operated drop-in center in the state of Florida and one of the largest in the country. While many consumer-run programs, such as MHCAN in California (see Chapter 3) and Advocacy Unlimited in Connecticut (see Chapter 9), are the product of one person’s devotion, the ...
Chapter 7: GROW in Illinois
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Mental illness is no respecter of persons—it can happen to anyone. The GROW mental health movement was born out of a creative response by ordinary people to their own mental and emotional suffering. It did not matter when, why, or even how the early founders of GROW became sick and tormented by inner demons, obsessions, or delusions. What did matter was that these tenacious and dedicated individuals did something about it. They conquered the giant within—through a proven method ...
Chapter 8: The Friends Connection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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The Friends Connection is a consumer-operated peer support program started in 1989 that promotes recovery among people with significant mental health and substance abuse problems (i.e., co-occurring disorders). The name of the program is a takeoff on the title of the 1980’s film The French Connection, about a major drug bust in France. We help people make a Friends Connection to become clean and sober. We believe friendship and peer support are critical elements in recovery. ...
Chapter 9: Advocacy Unlimited, Inc., Connecticut
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Consumers often ask, “How do you run an education and support program that helps mental health consumers progress toward a more fulfilling life?” The BRIDGES Education and Support program is an answer to that question. The original BRIDGES program was started in Tennessee in 1995, and within five years had expanded to eight other states and one Canadian province. The program consists of two parts. The first provides a fifteen-week course on mental illness, mental health treatment, and ...
Chapter 10: BRIDGES in Tennessee: Building Recovery of Individual Dreams and Goals through Education and Support
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Consumers often ask, “How do you run an education and support program that helps mental health consumers progress toward a more fulfilling life?” The BRIDGES Education and Support program is an answer to that question. The original BRIDGES program was started in Tennessee in 1995, and within five years had expanded to eight other states and one Canadian province. The program consists of two parts. The first provides ...
Chapter 11: Common Ingredients as a Fidelity Measure for Peer-Run Programs
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It was the summer of 1980. As at most state mental hospitals, the grounds at the Augusta Mental Health Institute (AMHI) in Maine were well manicured and green, and they showcased curved driveways and attractive trees that had once been planted with care. Behind the locked doors of AMHI, however, a brown haze enveloped the dimly lit rooms of the psychiatric ward, and an unnatural silence prevailed among the patients who paced endlessly or sat staring blankly in front of the TV, smoking. ...
Chapter 12: With Us: Where Are We Going?
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It was the summer of 1980. As at most state mental hospitals, the grounds at the Augusta Mental Health Institute (AMHI) in Maine were well manicured and green, and they showcased curved driveways and attractive trees that had once been planted with care. Behind the locked doors of AMHI, however, a brown haze enveloped the dimly lit rooms of the psychiatric ward, and an unnatural silence prevailed among the patients ...
Epilogue: Ourselves and Others
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Before I became involved in the Portland Coalition, the PEER Center, and other peer programs, I had spent over twenty years going in and out of hospitals and clinics with severe manic episodes. I had consulted with numerous psychiatrists and therapists, and my life was an endless round of lost family and lost friends, lost jobs and lost homes. When, finally, at ...
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Page Count: 286
Publication Year: 2005