Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 73, Issue 3, pp 217-228

First online:

Empowerment and Serious Mental Illness: Treatment Partnerships and Community Opportunities

  • Patrick W. CorriganAffiliated withCenter for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, University of Chicago

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The health goals of persons with serious mental illness are greatly improved when their personal power is advanced. Two targets of empowerment are discussed in this paper: treatment partnerships and community opportunities. Strategies that enhance treatment partnerships include provider endorsement of recovery rather than promoting an approach that suggests poor prognoses, treatment plans that are collaborative rather than unilateral decision making that is perceived as coercive, and treatment services provided in the person's community rather than geographically or psychological distant institutions. Approaches that focus on the person and treatment relationship are not sufficient however. Stigma and discrimination are significant barriers to the kind of community opportunities that are necessary to help people attain life goals. Communities that substitute stigmatizing attitudes and discriminatory behaviors with realistic views of mental illness are more likely to provide the kind of reasonable accommodations that some people need for work and independent living opportunities.

consumer empowerment stigma serious mental illness