Within CMHA, “consumers” have been defined as “people with direct experience of significant mental health problems who have used the resources available from the mental health system.” Many persons who volunteer or work in the CMHA or mental health system and the community have suffered from mental illness. However, for a variety of reasons, people may choose not to identify themselves as consumers; usually consumer participation means the inclusion of people who choose to identify themselves as consumer of mental health services. This self-identification is part of the empowerment of people who have often been left out of decision-making.
Individuals need support from the community to assume greater control over their own lives, and to utilize the resources within their natural environment. Equally important is the deepening and strengthening of the community’s capacity to respond to people who have previously been rejected.
Dans bien des cas, les personnes qui ont de graves problèmes de santé mentale doivent lutter pour subsister. Les perspectives d’emploi sont limitées; la pauvreté et le manque de logis sont choses courantes. Les consommateurs réguliers des services de santé mentale risquent de se détacher de la trame complexe des relations qui constituent la collectivité. Les fournisseurs de services professionnels ne peuvent pas répondre seuls aux besoins d’emploi, de revenu adéquat et de relations réciproques.