Skip to main content
Log in

Consumer-operated drop-in centers: Evaluation of operations and impact

  • Articles
  • Published:
The journal of mental health administration Aims and scope Submit manuscript


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Gartner A, Riessman F:The Self-Help Revolution. New York: Human Sciences Press, 1984.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Kurtz LF, Chambon A: Comparison of self-help groups for mental health.Health and Social Work 1987; 275–283.

  3. Chamberlin J:On Our Own: Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Mental Health Policy Resource Center: The growing mental health self-help movement.Policy in Perspective 1991; May:1–3.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Zinman S: Self-help: the wave of the future.Hospital and Community Psychiatry 1986; 37:213.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Emerick RE: Group demographics in the mental patient movement: group location, age, and size as structural factors.Community Mental Health Journal 1989; 25:277–300.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Young J, Williams CL: Whom do mutual-help groups help? a typology of members.Hospital and Community Psychiatry 1988; 39:1178–1182.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Kurtz LF, Mann KB, Chambon A: Linking between social workers and mental health mutual-aid groups.Social Work in Health Care 1987; 13:69–78.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Emerick RE: Self-help groups for former patients: relations with mental health professionals.Hospital and Community Psychiatry 1990; 41:401–407.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Luke DA, Rappaport J, Seidman E: Setting phenotypes in a mutual help organization: expanding behavior setting theory.American Journal of Community Psychology 1990; 19:147–167.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Zimmerman MA, Reischl TM, Seidman E, et al.: Expansion strategies of a mutual help organization.American Journal of Community Psychology 1991; 19:251–278.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Toro PA, Rappaport J, Seidman E: Social climate comparison of mutual help and psychotherapy groups.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1987; 55:430–431.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Church K: User involvement in the mental health field in Canada.Canada's Mental Health 1989; June:22–25.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Mowbray CT, Chamberlain PJ, Jennings M, et al.: Consumer-run mental health services: results from five demonstration projects.Community Mental Health Journal 1988; 24:151–156.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Mowbray CT, Wellwood R, Chamberlain PJ: Project Stay: a consumer-run support service.Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal 1988; XII:33–42.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Lieberman AA, Gowdy EA, Knutson LC: The Mental Health Outreach Project: a case study in self-help.Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal 1991; 14:100–104.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Moos RH, Humphrey B:Group Environment Scale Form. Palo Alto, Calif.: Consulting Psychologists Press, 1974.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Moos RH:Evaluating Treatment Environments: A Social Ecological Approach. New York: John Wiley, 1974.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Nguyen TD, Atkisson CC, Stegner BL: Assessment of patient satisfaction: development and refinement of a service evaluation questionnaire.Evaluation and Program Planning 1983; 6:299–314.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Chen H:Theory-driven Evaluations. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1990.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mowbray, C.T., Tan, C. Consumer-operated drop-in centers: Evaluation of operations and impact. The Journal of Mental Health Administration 20, 8–19 (1993).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: