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New DVD offers rare look at consumer/survivor initiatives
New approach to mental health stresses solutions generated by users of services
Mar 7/05| For Immediate Release
Dr. Geoff Nelson
WATERLOO – Wilfrid Laurier University will host the official launch of an instructional video that introduces an evolution in mental health care – the consumer/survivor initiative. Laurier will premiere From Madhouse to Our House from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 08 in room 101 of the Bricker academic building.
The DVD was produced as a new way of introducing an emerging model for mental health care to a wide audience. Consumer/survivor initiatives (CSIs) transform in a fundamental way how people with mental health concerns are supported. They go from being consumers of services and survivors of the system to active participants who support one another and work for community change.
“While there are many efforts underway to reform or improve mental health services, this one is unique in that it puts consumers in control of their own supports,” said Geoff Nelson, a psychology professor at Laurier and the principal investigator of a five-year study of CSIs. “With the help of the government, individuals who have experienced mental health issues have developed their own organizations, ones that are operated exclusively by and for mental health consumer/survivors.”
While such initiatives have surfaced around the world, they are relatively new and limited in number. Ontario became the first province in Canada to fund CSIs in 1991 and is now home to 60 initiatives.
Nelson has been the principal investigator of one of the few comprehensive research projects on CSIs undertaken anywhere in the world. A $400,000 grant from the Ontario Mental Health Foundation in 1998 allowed researchers and consumer/survivors to collaborate on A Longitudinal Study of the Consumer/Survivor Initiatives in Community Mental Health in Ontario. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research later provided $160,000 to extend the study.
From Madhouse to Our House provides quick and easy access to the study’s results. The DVD includes background on how society has responded to people with mental health problems, reviews the development of CSIs in Ontario and shares the findings of the research project on CSIs that was conducted in late 1990s and first half of 2000. Like the research, the DVD draws heavily on the experiences of consumer/survivors and social-service providers.
The researchers and consumer/survivors involved in the project hope the DVD will help those within and outside the mental health system understand the value of involving people in their own care.
“The public now knows far more about mental health issues and their treatment than they did 20 years ago,” said Shawn Lauzon, executive director of Ontario Peer Development Initiative (OPDI). “But the public knows little about the important role of self-help and peer support in mental health or how people who have experienced mental health problems can organize their own settings to support each other and work for change through research, advocacy, community development and education.”
Anyone wanting to order a copy of From Madhouse to Our House can contact Shawn Lauzon at OPDI.