Consumer-operated drop-in centers: Evaluation of operations and impact
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Research on self-help for consumers of psychiatric services has focused on the operation of voluntary groups and largely ignored service programs operated by consumers. This evaluation study focused on six consumer-operated drop-in centers, each established for at least two years. These centers served a combined total of 1,445 consumers and were funded as demonstration projects by the Michigan Department of Mental Health. Structured interviews of consumer-users of these centers indicated that the program was meeting its funding intents of serving people with serious mental illness and of creating an environment promoting social support and shared problem solving. Levels of satisfaction were uniformly high; there were few differences across centers. Issues that emerged for future policy and research considerations included funding constraints, enhancing accessibility (particularly for women and people needing frequent hospitalization), variable levels of support from catchment area community mental health agencies, and determining the long-term benefits of drop-in center participation.
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