Community Links: Pathways to Reconnection and Recovery

The Vermont State Department of Health is concerned about the recovery and community integration prospects of people who have mental health related orders of involuntary in-patient or outpatient commitment.  People in this group often have repeated restrictive orders and are reputed to have lives that are defined and limited by their mental health difficulties. In an effort to better meet the needs of these people and promote their recovery and reintegration into the community, the Vermont State Department of Mental Health funded principal investigator Mary Ellen Copeland, the author of this document, and co-researcher Shery Mead to:

  • Find out what recovery-oriented and peer support initiatives would help people who have these orders take back control of their lives;
  • Design and implement a pilot program based on the findings of the study; and,
  • Develop a manual that would allow for state and national program replication. (State of Vermont, 2001).

This essay describes the study, called the Moving Ahead Project, and the Community Links program that was developed and piloted based on the findings of that study, including the development of a manual to facilitate the replication of the Community Links program.

It includes:

    • An overview of the project.
    • A literature review of the issues of involuntary commitment, mental health recovery, and peer support, including the established values and ethics of these initiatives, a historical perspective of past and current recovery efforts in Vermont and an overview of related mental health programs.
    • A description of the development of the proposal for the State of Vermont to fund the study (Moving Ahead Project) to determine those mental health recovery and peer support initiatives that might be helpful to people who have repeated involuntary mental health commitments.
    • An explanation of the implementation of the study.
    • The data analysis process, an overview of the findings, and the process of using the data as the basis for developing the Community Links program.
    • The design, implementation, and evaluation of the Community Links program.
    • Responses to specific questions posed by Vermont mental health officials and recommendations for future action based on the findings of the study.

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