Next Steps, NFP, will work to ensure that mental health consumers/survivors have a major voice in the development and implementation of health care, mental health, housing and social policies at the state and local levels, empowering people to recover and lead a full life in the community.
Statement of Purpose
Mental health consumers/survivors are leading the transformation of the mental health field through our authentic voice and vision for self-directed recovery. Our vision of recovery goes far beyond treatment, because it is about all the elements that go into good lives—housing, education, jobs, social relationships, and full participation in the community. Our vision was echoed in the New Freedom Mental Health Commission Report, which sees a “future when everyone with mental illness will recover.”
Next Steps, representing people who are recovering or have recovered from mental illnesses, proposes a new consensus for the mental health field:
- Recovery: Recovery is real and possible for everyone. To recover, we need services and supports that treat us with dignity, respect our rights, allow us to make choices, and provide assistance with our real-life, self-defined needs. This range of services must include consumer-run and -operated programs.
- Self Determination: Self-determination is essential for recovery to occur. We need to be in control of our own lives.
- Holistic Choices: We need choices that meet our self-defined needs. We need a wide range of recovery-oriented services and supports to assist us in achieving our goals. These include assistance with housing, education, and career development, all of which can be consumer-run. We need these opportunities to achieve full integration into the community.
- Voice: We must have a voice in our recovery and in the policies facilitating our recovery. We are the most authentic voice in the mental health system, since mental health decisions affect every aspect of our lives. We bring our lived experience, therefore, we must be central in any dialogues and decisions about mental health issues at all levels. This is empowerment.
- Personhood: We are whole human beings and will campaign to remove stigma and discrimination. We have the same dreams as all members of the community and the ability to make our own decisions. A barrier-free community is one free from discrimination and stigma.
Principle of Respect
Next Steps maintains an inclusive culture built on mutual respect. We keep this cornerstone principle in focus so that we may work together to advance our mission.
Rationale: Next Steps includes individuals and groups with a wide range of views on mental illnesses and treatment. We have chosen to focus on those things that unite us, including (among others) a belief that recovery is real and possible for everyone, that we all deserve the same rights as people who are not consumers/survivors, and that we support everyone’s right to make their own choices about their treatment and their life. Because we all understand our personal experiences differently, it is essential for the strength and unity of our coalition that we respect one another’s choices of the words we use to describe those experiences, and of the activities we may choose to participate in (or not) in furtherance of our own well-being.
We support the consensus statement on recovery endorsed by the Federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/sma05-4129/). In the emerging field of “evidence-based practice,” we know from our full range of lived experiences what works because WE ARE THE EVIDENCE!