The Office of Consumer Activities (OCA) works to ensure that people who have mental health and addiction histories have a strong voice within the state behavioral health system. We believe peers are the experts on their own lives and the services that most benefit them. For this reason, the office serves as a conduit for peers to help shape behavioral health policy and service delivery.
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The OCA Promotes Recovery
Recovery is not a dream; it is wholly attainable and is the expected outcome of a system that fully responds to the needs and directives of those it serves. Self-determination is a core element of recovery. When people direct their treatment, they direct a critical part of their lives.
The Office of Consumer Activities holds that:
- People are able to attain a full and meaningful life of their own choosing;
- Behavioral health services provide valuable recovery tools under the direction of the person seeking recovery; and
- Each person defines his or her own recovery.
A chief goal of the office is to be a cornerstone for systemic change in reshaping policies and service delivery toward a recovery-oriented system of care. We strive for services to be more welcoming and fully honor each individual’s dignity.
Primary OCA Initiatives
The primary initiatives of the OCA are to:
- Build a statewide network of peer-run programs to facilitate the sharing of promising ideas, policies, practices and procedures;
- Provide technical assistance to PSS, peers and peer-run programs;
- Help OHA to increase peer involvement in evaluating the state’s policies, planning, and programs;
- Increase representation of consumers, survivors, and former patients, including ethnic and racial groups, in local and state mental health planning activities;
- Begin a stigma and discrimination reduction initiative;
- Reduce racial and ethnic groups’ barriers to mental health and addiction services by promoting culturally competent services for peers in these groups;
- Ensure that all peers have a strong voice in state mental health and addiction treatment policy development, planning and practice; and
- Coordinate an annual statewide peer conference.
Future Direction and Long Term Focus
Honoring the voice of peers, consumers and survivors in mental health and addictions policy will help to provide equal footing in service delivery and consumer choice. The long-term goal of the Office of Consumer Activities is to promote policies and services that:
- Support mental health and addiction recovery;
- Respect individuals’ choices and acknowledge their self-determination;
- More fully honor individuals’ dignity and ability to experience recovery;
- Promote higher levels of community inclusion, employment and education; and
- Encourage traditional providers to collaborate with peers and adopt practices that help people heal and recover their lives to the fullest, as they define for themselves.
Peer Leadership Network
What is the Peer Leadership Network?
The Peer Leadership Network (PLN) is made up of peers—individuals in addictions or mental health recovery and the parents of qualifying youth—who have taken on, or aspire to take on, peer leadership roles within peer run programs, on boards or committees, or within addictions or mental health treatment programs. The PLN is composed of regional networks that are joined to establish a statewide peer network.
- Share ideas, success stories, challenges faced and innovations;
- Provide and receive mutual support;
- Identify training and technical assistance needs within the region and coordinate with the Office of Consumer Activities for provision of training or technical assistance;
- A “point person” will be assigned to each region to help with organizational matters. Point persons will also sit on the soon-to-be-established Office of Consumer Activities Advisory Council.
Statewide PLN Purpose
- Share ideas, success stories, challenges faced and innovations across the state;
- Gain perspectives from other areas of the state on provision of peer delivered services within peer run programs and addictions and mental health programs;
- Identify systems issues of importance to the peer community, and create strategies for policy and service delivery improvements.
Retreats and Conferences
- Members from each region will be invited to participate in annual retreats that will bring together three (3) to four (4) regions to establish goals and set strategies.
- The annual retreats may be replaced at a later date by a statewide conference involving all the regions.