Self-help and nonprofit characteristics in mental health consumer-run organizations

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Reinhart, Crystal
Meissen, Gregory J.

Mental health consumer-run organizations (CROs) are organizations that incorporate the characteristics of self-help groups and nonprofit organizations. As self-help behavior settings, CROs impact the members and members influence CROs as members occupy all leadership and staff roles. At the same time, CROs are typically formal 501c3 nonprofits so they can receive funding. This research explored the self-help and nonprofit characteristics that exist in these settings through qualitative interviews with CRO leaders and members at eight CROs in Kansas. Overall, CROs demonstrated many self-help characteristics, such as a focus on recovery, empowerment, member control, and peer support. CROs also demonstrated sustainability characteristics such as high member participation. Nonprofit characteristics for CROs showed evidence of positive characteristics in some areas, including encouraging participation from members, assessing satisfaction of members, and maintaining adequate facilities. CROs also had some typical challenges the majority of traditional nonprofit settings face, such as diversity of funding and fundraising. Overall, CROs faced a remarkable balance between being a recovery-driven peer support behavior setting while also maintaining a formal nonprofit organization with reporting and operating requirements, a balance that is a rarity in both the nonprofit and self-help worlds.

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Thesis (Ph.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology