Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reciprocal Support Helps Mental Health Consumers

What happens when people with mental illnesses help others with the same problems move toward recovery? Researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University spent 10 weeks observing participants in a consumer-led program that helps with employment, housing, and advocacy, along with clinical services. Members chat at the program site, check on each other by phone when someone doesn’t come to the center, and help one another resist relapse and stick to their medications.

The mutual accountability arising through stable and authentic relationships may develop the capability for obtaining gainful employment, housing, and psychiatric stability, wrote Sara Lewis, M.A., L.M.S.W., and colleagues in the January Psychiatric Services. “Our study suggests that a local culture of reciprocal support—where one is just as responsible for providing support as for receiving it—promotes an ethic of accountability, a factor we argue may enhance recovery."

To read more about consumer-operated service programs in Psychiatric News, click here.

(Image: Rubtsov/


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