How to Create a Better Life

Consumer Action Network (CAN) believes that every consumer can participate in their recovery by exercising choices in treatment.  Consider how you can use CAN’s services to help you take a leading role in your treatment:

  1. Advocacy:  Your way to make your voice heard by the mental health system, by the City Council and by the mayor.
  2. Education:  The road to knowing your rights, understanding yourself and your needs, and planning your recovery.
  3. Mediation:  A way to work with others to settle your disputes and come to an agreement so you can get the mental health services that will help you best.

How CAN I Advocate for Myself?

Every person makes choices about actions they take in life.  You make better choices about your mental health when you are informed about how the mental health system works:

  1. You have respect for yourself, and you expect respect from others.
  2. You understand your rights in getting services.
  3. You accept your responsibilities as you advocate for and protect your rights.

You can make a difference by standing up and being heard.  Consumer Action Network (CAN) provides technical assistance to individuals who want to learn to advocate for themselves and others.

Who can Benefit from CAN?

If you are receiving mental health services, or if you are a family member of someone receiving services, you must make important choices about your or your child’s health.  CAN is here to help you understand your rights.  CAN will help you speak out for yourself.  If you are a provider of mental health services, we can help you understand the consumer’s perspective so you can better advocate for consumers’ rights.

Education and Recovery

Access to information is the first step in making decisions and choices in treatment.  What do I need to know about recovery?  What services and supports are best for me (or for my family member)?  What services can I (or my family member) get?  How can I access the services I need (or my family member needs)?

CAN discusses these questions and more in the seminars and workshops we present as an independent peer advocacy organization.  CAN brings the views of the consumer to the forefront to show that recovery is possible.  We are the  proof!

Working together for Results

After you advocate for yourself successfully for your treatment choices, you may discover you have issues overall with the mental health system.  Are the services you need available?  Do your representatives in government understand these needs and how they impact lives — even your life?!

CAN provides technical assistance if you and other consumers decide to work together on an issue of common concern.  You may contact CAN to find out if people are already working together or how you can start an advocacy group.

Why Mediation?

Everyone will encounter conflict at times.  You may have problems with a person you live with.  Perhaps you disagree with the treatment you are receiving.  You might be having trouble with your case manager.  You may ask “how can I get the services that are right for my child?”  You want to find a solution to your problem without a lot of fuss.  You might be able to solve the problem informally by meeting with the person you disagree with to talk things through.  CAN has a track record of success helping consumers and others find common ground.  CAN helps you bring people together, determine the facts, and come to a satisfying resolution.

Grievance Tools and Help

CAN is the Independent Peer Advocacy Program to help consumers filing a formal complaint within the mental health system.  If medication hasn’t worked or if you want to file a complaint, CAN will help guide you through the process.  If you change your mind and want to work things out another way, CAN will follow your lead.  Our advocates can help every step of the way.

Advance Directives:

Legal documents that allow mental health consumers to state their medical and mental health care wishes in advance for occasions when they are incapacitated or otherwise unable to do so.

Legal Nature:

  • Requires the signature of the consumer stating that the Advance Directives reflect their wishes 
  • Requires the signature of two outside witnesses confirming that the consumer is of sound mind at the time of requesting an Advance Directive
  • Witnesses are not employees of health care provider; at least one witness must be related by blood, marriage, or adoption; and to the best of their knowledge, are not entitled to any part of the consumer’s estate

Why are Advance Directives Important?  Required by Dixon Exit Criteria and MHRS Certification Standards as an option to consumers for crisis planning.

  • May be helpful for consumers to proactively state their treatment wishes during times they may be incapacitated or unavailable
  • Can serve as a tool to help consumers and their treatment providers work as partners in treatment planning according to recovery principles.

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