WHAT IS A DROP-IN?
Justice in Mental Health Organization
PHILOSOPHY OF CONSUMER/PEER –
The philosophy behind consumer-run (peer-run) organizations is that by working together and sharing experiences we have had in the community, we are able to help each other. The fear of the mental health professional is taken away at a peer-run organization, because everyone has been through similar experiences.
The Purpose of a Drop-In
At the Drop-In, stigma is eliminated through acceptance. With this acceptance, individuals with emotional and mental health problems change their view of themselves. As they are accepted by others, they learn to accept themselves and even like themselves. The judgmental attitudes of society are absent at the center because every one has been in a similar place or shared a similar experience. At the center there is no shame in being a person with mental or emotional health problems.
At the center, individuals learn to create and initiate new ways of solving old problems. At the center individuals receive assistance learning problem-solving skills both by example and by direct assistance. Often a problem seems so overwhelming and out of control to the individual that a solution cannot be seen. People who feel that they have no control in their lives find problem-solving difficult. With encouragement and support individuals learn that there is no problem so overwhelming that a solution can't be found. By interacting with others, consumers learn that they are not the only one with problems and are given hope in solving them. Learning problem-solving skills is a vital step to independence.
Diffusion of Crisis
Individuals rely heavily on the center in times of crisis. Individuals have come to the center after attempting suicide. They know that the people at the center will help them. They know that at the center they will find people who care about them and won't let them die.
Individuals know that the people at the center are always there to help them through crisis. They know that the individuals there can understand and offer support. The center gives individuals a stable ground on which to stand and a place to regain their strength. The diffusion of crisis is what keeps individuals out of the hospital and keeps them well.
Dignity With Risk
The center is a place where individuals with emotional/mental health problems are given the opportunity to learn to take risks. They know they will be accepted whether they succeed or fail. The center serves as a safety net providing a secure place to return to after taking new risks. Individuals receive support and encouragement in facing the fears of risk-taking. People sometimes learn that the choices they made are bad, even with good intentions. Peer-run organizations assist them with learning positive choices that will improve their lives. At the center individuals learn that the only failure of risk-taking is to not try. People have gone back to school, attained new jobs, began therapy, moved into independent living, stayed out of the hospital, faced challenges and learned to go on with their lives thanks to the support and understanding of their peers.
The center creates hope for a positive and productive life. Once hope is lost by an individual there will be no positive growth or movement. At the center hope is created. One learns and experiences hope from seeing others doing better. Hope is also created, most importantly, as you find others who care about you.
The center is a non-judgmental place. The judgments of the outside world are absent. No one is making judgments about how you look, dress or act. It is a place where only constructive enhancing criticism takes place, criticism that does not hurt or harm. There is not any scrutinizing or monitoring of behavior like in a hospital or therapy.
Individuals with mental/emotional problems feel a great deal of shame for their problems. At the center individuals find a shame-free environment. Individuals are given respect and treated with dignity as human beings and each person is seen as their own unique individual. The center is a place to heal from the pain, guilt, humiliation and embarrassment we have been made to feel for the mental/emotional problems we face.
The center is a place where individuals can begin to take risks. It is safe and they know that they will be accepted whether they succeed or fail. They grow from these experiences of having the opportunity to make their own decisions and receive support, even if the decision didn't work out. Because of the support, even if they fail, they are acknowledged for making the effort. Through this process, they learn that it is okay to make decisions, even if they are wrong; and that it is okay to continue taking risks. The center plays as a safety-net, providing a secure place to return to after taking new risks.
The center is ideally a transitional point, a place of progress in the recovery for individuals experiencing emotional problems. People come in, spend time at the center and move back into society and begin the rest of their lives. For some individuals this process is short, for others it takes more time, but the center works for both.
The center is about more than being “mentally ill”. The center is about learning to be alive again. The center is about learning and sharing ideas and stories that others take for granted. Over 15,000 individuals use drop-in centers in