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Abstract

To evaluate the impacts of participation in mental health Consumer/Survivor Initiatives (CSIs), we used a nonequivalent control group design to compare new, active participants in CSIs ( n = 61) with nonactive participants ( n = 57) at baseline, 9-month, and 18-month follow-up intervals. The two groups were comparable at baseline on a wide range of demographic variables, self-reported psychiatric diagnosis, service use, and outcome measures. At 9 months, there was a significant reduction in utilization of emergency room services for active participants, but not for nonactive participants. At 18 months, the active participants showed significant improvement in social support and quality of life (daily activities) and a significant reduction in days of psychiatric hospitalization, whereas the nonactive participants did not show significant changes on these outcomes. Also, active CSI participants were significantly more likely to maintain their involvement in employment (paid or volunteer) and/or education over the 18-month follow-up period when compared with those who were not active in CSIs. These results are discussed in the context of the self-help literature and their policy implications for people with mental illness. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.