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An Overview of Surveys of Mental Health Consumers' Preferences for Housing and Support Services
Beth Tanzman
Psychiatric Services 1993; doi:
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This research was partly funded by contract with the Vermont Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and field-initiated research grant G008720160 from the National Institute of Disability Rehabilitation and Research in the U. S. Department of Education. The content does not necessarily represent Department of Education policy or endorsement by the federal government.

Institute for Program Development, Trinity College of Vermont, 208 Colchester Avenue, Burlington, Vermont 05401

1993 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

Objective: The author examined the methodology and results of studies that surveyed mentally ill clients' preferences related to housing and support services to gain an overview of demographic characteristics, current and preferred housing situations, and preferred types of staff supports and social and material supports in a nationally representative sample of clients. Methods: Through mailings to state departments of mental health and local mental health providers and advocates, a national survey of residential providers, and other contacts with mental health agencies, the author identified a total of 43 studies of mental health consumers' preferences for housing and supports conducted between 1986 and 1992. The results of26 of the studies whose methodologies permitted comparison of findings were summarized. Results: Consumers consistently reported that they would prefer to live in their own house or apartment, to live alone or with a spouse or romantic partner, and not to live with other mental health consumers. Consumers reported a strong preference for outreach staff support that is available on call; few respondents wanted to live with staff Consumers also emphasized the importance of material supports such as money, rent subsidies, telephones, and transportation for successful community living. Conclusions: To accommodate consumers' preferences, mental health systems should work toward providing flexible supports corresponding to the episodic nature of psychiatric disability and should expand their advocacy for affordable housing and for increased income for people who depend on disability benefits and other entitlements.

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