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Why Peer Led?

Understanding, empowering support from consumers of mental health services, just like you.


People who have lived the same experiences have a special capacity to provide services for people with mental health challenges, because our shared experience provides us with an understanding that is hard to duplicate in other relationships. This kind of help is based on a simple idea: People who have problems and who use services and resources to solve those problems become experts.


In peer support, we are equals. You are the expert on you, and we work to support you in your recovery journey.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads the behavioral health efforts of the nation says:


“Consumer/peer-run organizations are one of the most invaluable yet overlooked assets in our service system. Operating in most communities across the country, these organizations have a history of providing excellent services to people with behavioral health issues.”


“Numerous studies demonstrate that peer-operated services show positive recovery-based outcomes for people with behavioral health disorders.”

History of the Consumer Movement

The mental health consumer movement has been growing and evolving for a long time, perhaps longer than psychology, itself, has been around. As early as the mid 1800’s, early mental health client-advocates, like Elizabeth Packard, worked to affect public policy and promote destigmatization. In the 1940s, a group of former psychiatric patients founded “We Are Not Alone” (WANA), urging clients to not settle for the status quo of the day, and raising awareness of the treatment that clients were receiving from the medical profession and society at large.


When psychology was in its infancy, people were often treated without respect, or with harsh treatments, against their will. The consumer movements of the past were often organized to help protect consumers from the system and services they were consuming.


The wave of pro-rights movements in the 1970’s brought a great deal of change.


In the 1970s, former mental health clients began to organize groups with the common goals of fighting for patients’ rights and against stigma and discrimination. This movement began to promote peer-run services based on the principle that individuals who have shared similar experiences can help themselves and each other through self-help and mutual support.


By the 1980s, consumers of mental health services had begun to organize self-help/advocacy groups and peer-run services with a new vision—while sharing some of the goals of the earlier movements, consumer groups encouraged their members to learn as much as possible about the mental health system, so they could gain access to the best services and treatments available.


Support is a phone call away.

It’s hard to start. It’s even hard to know where to start. We know how hard it is to keep momentum. We know it helps to have a network of people who understand.

That's why you should call our Warmline.

Help KEY help others.

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