Consumer empowerment in mental health organizations: Concept, benefits, and impediments

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This article proposes a framework for promoting consumer empowerment in mental health organizations. Consumer empowerment involves consumer participation in organizational decision-making, program development and evaluation, access to resources, and opportunities for consumers to develop and run services as well as to maintain personal dignity and integrity. The benefits include increased service innovation, responsiveness to changes in the market place, accountability, as well as the enhancement of quality of care, the protection of consumer rights, among others.

The author was supported by NIMH training grant No. T32MH-19544-02, and is grateful to Julian Rappaport, Judi Chamberlin, and the Community/Family Research Group at Vanderbilt University for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper.