Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mental Health Consumer Providers: A Guide for Clinical Staff

from Rand (of all places):

Consumer providers (CPs) are individuals with serious mental illness
who are trained to use their experiences to provide recovery-oriented
services and support to others. There are several demonstrated benefits
to employing CPs: They can serve as role models, voice and broker the
needs of consumers, provide information and motivation, and mentor
others (including potential CPs). CPs can have a variety of roles,
including, among other things, assisting clients, providing support
services (such as skills assistance and transportation), providing
liaison services, dispelling possible stigma or bias toward clients,
and augmenting overburdened mental health systems. Despite these roles
and benefits, there are also challenges to and misconceptions about
employing CPs, such as staff concerns, organizational issues, and
perceived barriers related to the abilities and competence of CPs. As
mental health providers turn to CPs to augment current services, it is
useful to review these issues through the lens of hiring and
integrating CPs into provider teams. This guide is intended to be an
easy-to-use reference for agencies that are seeking to strengthen or
expand consumer involvement, employers who are considering hiring CPs,
consumers who are interested in applying for CP positions, and
advocates for CP involvement in mental health care. The information and
recommendations presented here are the result of interviews with
relevant stakeholders at Lamp Community, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit
serving the mental health needs of the homeless and formerly homeless;
interviews with national experts; and a review of current literature on
the subject.

Free, downloadable PDF file(s) are available below.

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