206567 : Partners in Recovery: Report from an Ongoing Ethnographic Study of Peer-Run Mental Health Services

Monday, November 9, 2009: 1:14 PM

Sara E. Lewis, MA, LMSW , Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
Ellen Healion, MS , Hands Across Long Island, Central Islip, NY
Kim Hopper, PhD , Nathan Kline Institute, Orangeburg, NY
While user-run programs including advocacy programs, peer-counseling, and mentoring are somewhat commonplace in community mental health services, fully peer-operated mental health centers remain novel in the public mental health landscape.

This paper is a preliminary report on an ongoing ethnographic study of Hands Across Long Island (HALI), a stand alone, peer-operated, multi-service center in suburban New York. HALI is fully licensed by the State of Office of Mental Health as a Personal Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) Center. The PROS innovation was designed—not primarily to enhance peer-participation in delivering services—but rather to help consumers of mental health services “attain and retain the basic things we all want in our lives—social relationships, a home, and meaningful work” (Sederer, 2004). This principle speaks to the very heart of a Capabilities Approach to mental health research and practice.

Using principles of Community Based Participatory Research, key HALI staff and administration collaborated with researchers studying Recovery in Social Contexts to understand: 1) how peer-run mental health centers differ from traditional community mental health centers, 2) why peer-run services are efficacious in promoting recovery from mental illness and substance abuse, and 3) how a Capabilities Approach might enhance the mission of HALI, which is to provide empowerment, strength, and assistance in the recovery process of psychiatric consumers and survivors.

Learning Objectives:
1)identify key elements of user-run mental health services. 2) Evaluate how a Capabilities approach can inform services, administration, and research processes in consumer-run mental health.

Keywords: Recovery, Mental Illness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am responsible for study design, data collection, and analysis on this NIMH-sponsored study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.