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National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery | NCMHR

Mental Health Consumer/Survivors Create National Coalition

[Press Release – September 6, 2006]

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mental health consumer/survivors have formed a national coalition to ensure that they play a major role in the development and implementation of health and mental health care and social policies at the state and national levels.

“The creation of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) is a milestone,” said the group’s Director of Public Policy, Lauren Spiro. “The formation of this Coalition takes us to the next level- it enables us to raise our collective voice, based on our experience of mental health recovery, and be heard at the seat of power. The Coalition embraces the disability movement’s motto, ‘Nothing about us without us.’ ” The Coalition will collaborate with other advocacy groups to ensure that consumer rights policies continue to move towards promoting full participation and integration in the community.

The rapidly growing Coalition currently consists of organizations run by consumers representing 28 states and the District of Columbia, including representatives from the three consumer-run national technical assistance centers: the Consumer Organization and Networking Technical Assistance Center, the National Empowerment Center, and the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse.

The Coalition supports the efforts of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to transform the mental health system to one that is recovery-based and consumer- and family-driven, and supports SAMHSA’s consensus statement on recovery (www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/sma05-4129/). The Coalition proposes a new consensus for the mental health field based on the following principles:

  • Recovery: Recovery is real and possible for everyone. To recover, we need services and supports that treat us with dignity, respect our rights, allow us to make choices, and provide assistance with our real-life, self-defined needs. This range of services must include consumer-run and -operated programs.
  • Self Determination: Self-determination is essential for recovery to occur. We need to be in control of our own lives.
  • Holistic Choices: We need choices that meet our self-defined needs. We need a wide range of recovery-oriented services and supports to assist us in achieving our goals. These include assistance with housing, education, and career development, all of which can be consumer-run. We need these opportunities to achieve full integration into the community.
  • Voice: We must have a voice in our recovery and in the policies facilitating our recovery. We are the most authentic voice in the mental health system, since mental health decisions affect every aspect of our lives. We bring our lived experience, therefore, we must be central in any dialogues and decisions about mental health issues at all levels. This is empowerment.
  • Personhood: We are whole human beings and will campaign to remove stigma and discrimination. We have the same dreams as all members of the community and the ability to make our own decisions. A barrier-free community is one free from discrimination and stigma.