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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Best Practice Guidelines for Consumer-Delivered Services
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Consumer-Delivered Services (CDS) have become increasingly integrated into formal mental health systems and are viewed as an important approach to expanding the continuum of services available to persons with mental illness, including those with serious mental illness. Many definitions of “consumer” exist. For our purposes we define a consumer as someone who has experienced, or is currently experiencing, symptoms associated with a diagnosable mental illness, and has received services to address these symptoms. CDS are those services where identified consumers interact with other identified consumers in services that are uniquely consumer-delivered (e.g., self-help groups) or as part of services that involve both consumer and non-consumer staff (e.g., case management). We believe that the sharing of personal experience is a critical element of CDS and is part of what make them beneficial. It is recognized that many professionals have personal experiences with mental illnesses but choose not to identify as mental health consumers and do not share their personal experiences as consumers. Services delivered by persons who do not identify as consumers or share their personal experiences as consumers are not CDS. A program or agency where consumers serve only as advisers or on a board is not a CDS. (Authors)
Peoria, IL