Toward the Implementation of Mental Health Consumer Provider Services

Published in: The Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, v. 33, no. 2, Apr./June 2006, p. 176-195

by Matthew Chinman, Alexander Young, Joseph Hassell, Larry Davidson

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Encouraged by the New Freedom Commission, mental health systems such as the Veteran Administration (VA) are now becoming more recovery-oriented. Consumer providers (CPs)--those with serious mental illness who are further along in recovery who provide services to others with similar mental health problems--are viewed as a key part of this change. However, organizational change theories suggest that careful consideration of implementation issues is critical when disseminating new and sometimes controversial services into existing organizations. Therefore, to guide the dissemination of CP services, the literature on the effectiveness of CPs was reviewed, and interviews, focus groups, and a brief survey of 110 administrators, providers, and patients were conducted at three large VA clinics in Southern California. Questions focused on their perceptions of feasibility and acceptability of CP services. Using literature and study findings, an organizational change framework and other strategies to overcome potential implementation challenges of CP services are suggested.

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