Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 199-208

First online:

Consumers as Staff in Assertive Community Treatment Programs

  • Lisa DixonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Maryland
  • , Ann HackmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Maryland
  • , Anthony LehmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Maryland

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The last decade has witnessed the increasing importance of consumers as providers of mental health services. Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams and ACT variants, with their emphasis on rehabilitation and support in the client's natural environment, have hosted consumer-professional collaborations. The authors discuss one such program in which an ACT program for homeless mentally ill adults employed consumer advocates (CAs). Consumer advocates were found to have a service profile similar to other staff. Further, there is suggestive evidence that the employment of CAs created a more positive attitude toward persons with mental illness. Issues of role definition, boundaries, support with supervision and the importance of CAs' experiences with mental illness are discussed.