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Technical Assistance Guide Serving on Boards and Committees

posted Mar 25, 2011, 11:14 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Mar 25, 2011, 12:10 PM ]

The National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse has prepared this Technical Assistance Guide as a tool to help mental health consumers serve on the boards and committees that shape mental health policy. In recent years, local, state, and federal governments have formed advisory committees in order to get consumer input. Also, both nonprofit and for-profit corporations have begun to include more consumers on their boards of directors and committees.

By serving on these boards and committees, consumers can have an impact on mental health policy. These groups have a variety of names, but "no matter what the name, any group of people that sets mental health policy should include consumers," says Clearinghouse executive director Joseph Rogers. "For years, the mental health system made decisions without asking for our input. Now that they're asking for our input, we have to learn how to serve on boards and committees in a way that our input is valued and we are not just token members," he continues.

This Technical Assistance Guide explains how to become an effective member of a board or committee. Topics include: how to get involved as a consumer advocate, how to locate opportunities for serving on boards and committees, what to expect while serving, and how to be an effective member.

This Guide was prepared based on interviews with a number of people calling themselves mental health consumers, psychiatric survivors, and other terms, but for the sake of brevity, we often use the term "consumer" alone.