, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 229-238

A randomized evaluation of consumer versus nonconsumer training of state mental health service providers

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Rreliminary evidence suggests that mental health consumers can successfully serve as peer companions, case management aides, case managers, job coaches, and drop-in center staff. However, few empirical investigations have addressed the use of consumers to train mental health professionals. This project employed a randomized design to test the effects of using consumers as trainers for mental health service providers. Fifty-seven state mental health professionals participated in a two-day training designed to acquaint trainees with the attitudes and knowledge necessary for delivering assertive case management services. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: one in which they received the second day of training from a consumer and the other involving training by a nonconsumer. Analyses revealed that post-training attitudes were significantly more positive for those participants trained by the consumer. Subjective evaluations also reflected positive reactions to the use of consumers as trainers. Implications for further use of mental health consumers as trainers are explored.

Funded, in part, by contract #MH19359 and #C151038092 from the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, Springfield, Illinois. Also supported by the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (Cooperative agreement #H133B00011). The opinions expressed herein do not reflect the position or policy of any agency and no official endorsement should be inferred. The authors gratefully acknowledge Elise Brooks, Mark Gervain, Eleanor Guzzio, Karen Lee, and Mardi Solomon, as well as participants in the training, for their valuable contributions to this research project.