Next Steps Statewide Consumer Network Project

In 2016 Next Steps was awarded a grant from SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) for the Next Steps Statewide Consumer Network project. The project brings Illinois mental health providers, mental health practitioners, advocacy organizations and consumers together through the vision of mental health policy and practice which is developed by consumers for consumers. Using a combination of training, education and organizational support, Next Steps is working to replicate its strategy of influencing mental health policy by being in the rooms where decisions are being made. Through the commitments of our diverse group of supporting organizations, we are delivering consumer leadership to people with severe mental illness across Illinois and encourage transformation of the mental health system from within.

Our activities, including mental health trainings for correctional officers, various panels addressing lived experience of mental illness and partnerships with other consumer groups throughout Illinois, are working to increase consumer voice in mental health services being provided in Illinois jails and prisons. We are working to bring consumer voice to the providers of mental health services both organizationally and through trade organizations. Next Steps will remove barriers of access to the mental health movement caused by disability, homelessness as well as poverty and include all consumers of mental health services in our unified voice. Finally, Next Steps brings the message of resiliency, hope and recovery that we know can only come from people with lived experience of mental illness to every Illinois citizen within our reach. The Next Steps Consumer Network Project is managed and operated by consumers who are also highly experienced and qualified to lead this transformation.

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