Consumer-Run Drop-In Centers: Current State and Future Directions

  • Louis D. Brown
  • Scott Wituk
  • Greg Meissen


Consumer-run drop-in centers are a popular form of mental health self-help that typically requires external funding. The drop-in center can serve as a foundation for many other organizational pursuits. In addition to organizing recreational activities, drop-in centers can host self-help groups, bring in speakers from the community, offer classes to members, organize public awareness campaigns about mental illness, volunteer in the community, and work with policy makers to improve the public mental health system. This chapter will review research on several different facets of these organizations including their activities, organizational structure, evidence base, funding support, and community relations. Strategies to enhance the organizational effectiveness and peer support of consumer run drop-in centers are outlined with attention to enhancing empowerment and recovery. The chapter concludes by considering future directions for research and practice.


Mental Health System Organizational Capacity Mental Health Consumer Board Development Grant Writing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Support for this research comes from Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services, Division of Mental Health.


  1. Biegel, D. E., Tracy, E. M., & Corvo, K. N. (1994). Strengthening social networks: Intervention strategies for mental health case managers. Health and Social Work, 19, 206–216.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Borkman, T. J. (1999). Understanding self-help/mutual aid: Experiential learning in the commons. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, L. D. (2009a). How people can benefit from mental health consumer-run organizations. American Journal of Community Psychology, 43, 177–188.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, L. D. (2009b). Making it sane: Using life history narratives to explore theory in a mental health consumer-run organization. Qualitative Health Research, 19, 243–257.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown, L. D., Collins, V. L., Shepherd, M. D., Wituk, S. A., & Meissen, G. (2004). Photovoice and consumer-run mutual support organizations. International Journal of Self-Help and Self-Care, 2,339–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, L. D., Shepherd, M. D., Merkle, E. C., Wituk, S. A., & Meissen, G. (2008). Understanding how participation in a consumer-run organization relates to recovery. American Journal of Community Psychology, 42, 167–178.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, L. D., Shepherd, M. D., Wituk, S. A., & Meissen, G. (2007). Goal achievement and the accountability of consumer-run organizations. Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research, 34, 73–82.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bryson, J. M. (1995). Strategic planning for profit and nonprofit organizations: A guide to strengthening and sustaining organizational achievement. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  9. Center for Community Support & Research. (2003). An analysis of consumer-run organization quarterly reports [Electronic Version], 2009 from
  10. Center for Community Support & Research. (2004). Network analysis of consumer-run organizations. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University Center for Community Support & Research.Google Scholar
  11. Cohen, S., Gottlieb, B. H., & Underwood, L. G. (2000). Social relationships and health. In S. Cohen, L. G. Underwood, & B. H. Gottlieb (Eds.), Social support measurement and intervention: A guide for health and social scientists (pp. 3–28). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Connolly, P. M., & York, P. J. (2002). Evaluating capacity-building efforts for nonprofit organizations. OD Practitioner, 34, 33–39.Google Scholar
  13. Fischer, C. S. (1982). To dwell among friends: Personal networks in town and city. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  14. Goldberg, R. W., Rollins, A. L., & Lehman, A. F. (2003). Social network correlates among people with psychiatric disabilities. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 26, 393–402.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goldstrom, I. D., Campbell, J., Rogers, J. A., Lambert, D. B., Blacklow, B., Henderson, M. J., et al. (2006). National estimates for mental health mutual support groups, self-help organizations, and consumer-operated services. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 33, 92–103.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hardy, C., Phillips, N., & Lawrence, T. (2003). Resources, knowledge and influence: The organizational effects of interorganizational collaboration. Journal of Management Studies, 40, 289–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Holter, M. C., & Mowbray, C. T. (2005). Consumer-run drop-in centers: Program operations and costs. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 28, 323–331.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Holter, M. C., Mowbray, C. T., Bellamy, C. D., MacFarlane, P., & Dukarski, J. (2004). Critical ingredients of consumer run services: Results of a national survey. Community Mental Health Journal, 40(1), 47–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Janzen, R., Nelson, G., Trainor, J., & Ochocka, J. (2006). A longitudinal study of mental health consumer/survivor initiatives: Part 4–Benefits beyond the self? A quantitative and qualitative study of system-level activities and impacts. Journal of Community Psychology, 34, 285–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kasinsky, J. (1987). Cooptation. In S. Zinman, H. T. Harp & S. Budd (Eds.), Reaching across: Mental health clients helping each other (pp. 177–181). Sacramento, CA: California Network of Mental Health Clients.Google Scholar
  21. Kiresuk, T. J., & Lund, S. H. (1978). Goal attainment scaling. In C. C. Attkisson, W. A. Hargreaves, M. J. Horowitz & J. E. Sorensen (Eds.), Evaluation of human service programs. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  22. Maton, K. I., & Salem, D. A. (1995). Organizational characteristics of empowering community settings: A multiple case study approach. American Journal of Community Psychology, 23, 631–656.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mohr, W. K. (2004). Surfacing the life phases of a mental health support group. Qualitative Health Research, 14, 61–77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mowbray, C. T., & Tan, C. (1993). Consumer-operated drop-in centers: Evaluation of operations and impact. Journal of Mental Health Administration, 20, 8–19.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nelson, G., Ochocka, J., Janzen, R., & Trainor, J. (2006). A longitudinal study of mental health consumer/survivor initiatives: Part 2–A quantitative study of impacts of participation on new members. Journal of Community Psychology, 34, 261–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Riessman, F. (1965). The “helper” therapy principle. Social Work, 10, 27–32.Google Scholar
  27. Rodgers, R., & Hunter, J. E. (1991). Impact of management by objectives on organizational productivity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76, 322–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Segal, S. P., Silverman, C., & Temkin, T. (1993). Empowerment and self-help agency practice for people with mental disabilities. Social Work, 38, 705–712.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Segal, S. P., Silverman, C., & Temkin, T. (1997). Program environments of self-help agencies for persons with mental disabilities. The Journal of Mental Health Administration, 24, 456–464.Google Scholar
  30. Smith, D. H. (2000). Grassroots associations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Teague, G. B., Johnsen, M., Rogers, J. A., & Schell, B. (2005). Research on consumer-operated service programs: Effectiveness findings and policy implications of a large multi-site study. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from
  32. Trainor, J., Shepherd, M., Boydell, K. M., Leff, A., & Crawford, E. (1997). Beyond the service paradigm: The impact and implications of consumer/survivor initiatives. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 21, 132–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Van Tosh, L., & del Vecchio, P. (2000). Consumer-operated self-help programs: A technical report. Rockville, MD: U.S. Center for Menal Health Services.Google Scholar
  34. Wituk, S. A., Vu, C., Brown, L. D., & Meissen, G. (2008). Organizational capacity needs of consumer-run organizations. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 35, 212–219.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Yanos, P. T., Primavera, L. H., & Knight, E. L. (2001). Consumer-run service participation, recovery of social functioning, and the mediating role of psychological factors. Psychiatric Services, 52, 493–500.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis D. Brown
    • 1
  • Scott Wituk
    • 2
  • Greg Meissen
    • 3
  1. 1.Prevention Research CenterThe Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  2. 2.Center for Community Support and ResearchWichita State UniversityWichitaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyWichita State UniversityWichitaUSA

Personalised recommendations