Community Psychology

In Pursuit of Liberation and Well-Being

by Geoffrey Nelson and Isaac Prilleltensky

Chapter 5: Power and Community

Class Exercise
Identify a group or a community to which you belong. Using Table 5.a make a list of benefits and disadvantages associated with being part of a particular group or community. Write down benefits and disadvantages for yourself, for other members of the community and for people not belonging to this particular group or community.

Compare and discuss with peers in class the contents of Table 5.a.

As part of the discussion, consider the role of power in bringing about positive or negative outcomes for the various groups of people listed in Table 5.a.

Table 5.a
Values, Elements, and Ideal Indicators of the Empowerment-Community Integration Paradigm in Community Mental Health



Ideal Indicators

Consumer/survivor empowerment

Personal empowerment

There is consumer/survivor independence

Consumer/survivors have a positive self-image

Voice, choice, and control over services and supports

Consumer/survivors have choice over the type and source of support

Consumer/survivors' choices about medication are viewed in terms of choice, not "compliance"

Voice, choice, and control over organizational planning and policy

Consumer/survivors have a strong voice on all organizational committees

Consumer/survivors constitute the majority on agency boards and committees

Consumer/survivor control over financial resources

Consumer/survivors have control over how mental health dollars are spent

Consumer/survivors are staff at all levels of the organization

Community integration

Participation in the community

Consumer/survivors participate everywhere in the community, in all walks of life

There is non-segregated living, working, and playing

Acceptance of consumer/survivors as valued members of the community and eradication of stigma and labelling

People are loved and accepted for who they are

Consumer/survivors do not feel ashamed, isolated, or stigmatized

Relationships with people who are not consumer/survivors

Consumer/survivors have relationships with people in normal community settings, recreation and leisure, work, education

Consumer/survivors have informal support and are not isolated

Participation in self-help/mutual aid

Consumer/survivors have their own independent organizations over which they have total control

Consumer/survivors have peer support

Access to valued resources


Consumer/survivors are assured a guaranteed minimum income that allows them to live in dignity and peace

Consumer/survivors have decent financial support, not poverty level


There is a focus on homes as opposed to housing

Everyone has access to clean, safe, affordable housing; housing is a basic human right


There are more sensitive departments in schools and universities that aim to support students who are consumer/survivors

Colleges and universities have supported and flexible education policies to ensure access and support


An employment strategy to eliminate unemployment of consumer/survivors who want to work at whatever work or level they want

Consumer/survivors do not lose financial support when they try to go back to work

Holistic health care (treatment and support)

Holistic treatment and support

Treatment and support focus on spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical aspects of health

Treatment and support focus on the whole person

Information from professionals

Consumer/survivors get full information about treatment

Consumer/survivors have a directive role with psychiatrists and professionals

Professional attitudes and behaviours

Professionals listen to and respect consumer/survivors

Professionals acknowledge their own mental health issues

Valuing of consumer/survivors' experiential knowledge

Consumer/survivors' experiential knowledge is considered valid

Consumer/survivors disseminate their knowledge about recovery to professionals

Individualized and flexible support and treatment

There is a move away from "programming" to individualized supports

Services and supports build upon consumer/survivors' strengths

Community and home-based support

Support is provided in a person's home or wherever it is needed in the community

Life changes for the consumer/survivor are minimized while treatment is provided

Coordination of treatment and support

There is cooperation and common goals between psychiatrists and support workers

There is more coordination and cooperation among service-providers

Consumer/survivors direct support coordination

From Nelson, Lord, and Ochocka (2001b, pp. 243-245)

Table 5.b

Positive and Negative Aspects Associated with Being Part of a Group or Community

Positive Aspects of Being Part of a Group or Community

Negative Aspects of Being Part of a Group or Community

For myself

For other
members of the

For people not
associated with
the group or