Integrating Skill Building and Peer Support in Mental Health Treatment

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The shortcomings of contemporary models of mental health treatment are evidenced by the poor quality of life (Ellsworth, Foster, Childers, Arthur, & Kroeker, 1968; Hogarty & Katz, 1971; Schooler, Goldberg, Boothe, & Cole, 1976) and the revolving-door recidivism (Bachrach, 1976) so frequently observed among mental health clients. If deinstitutionalization is to become a meaningful reality, new and creative models of treatment must be sought. In response to this need for innovation, the state of Florida founded the Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI) in 1967. The FMHI is organized into demonstration projects, each of which addresses a statewide service need through an innovative program of service delivery. The programs are conceptualized and tested at the FMHI and are then disseminated into the state’s mental health system. Emphasis is placed on the development of service models that (1) provide a continuum of residential, transitional, and community-based care, (2) efficiently utilize professional and paraprofessional personpower, and (3) provide alternatives to current treatment methods.