CSP History

History of the community Support Program

The discovery of psychotropic medications along with civil rights and social rights movements in the 1950’s and 1960’s led to the phenomenon known as deinstitutionalization. The philosophy was noble – person’s with mental illness should be treated and live in their communities and not institutions. However, communities were ill prepared to adequately treat this new community population. By the early 1970’s the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) was receiving much criticism for it’s policies on deinstitutionalization and the failure of communities to have the resources necessary to provide adequate services and supports to person’s with long-term mental illnesses.

The NIMH officially began to address the problems of deinstitutionalization and community based care in 1974. That year they formed an internal workgroup, the Community Support Work Group, which was charged with the task of designing and promoting the development of community based service systems for adults with long-term mental illness. The type of system envisioned by NIMH was one that would enable mentally ill persons to remain in the community and to function at optimal levels of independence.

This workgroup, spearheaded by Judy Clark-Turner, a staff at NIMH, set out on an investigatory process to find out what works best. They had an innovative approach to this investigation process – “ask the consumer.” It was consumers who reported that the psychosocial rehabilitation model/approach was what they found most helpful for long term recovery’ and community integration. From this strong feedback the workgroup then embraced the psychosocial rehabilitation model and philosophy, including clubhouse model, PACT model out of Wisconsin, Fairweather Lodge model out of Michigan and the Consumer Run Services model out of Philadelphia. Out of these model programs, the workgroup developed the CSP Principles & Values and the concept of a Community Support System.

By 1977, the results of the workgroup were officially presented and had developed into a special federal initiative – the birth of CSP had arrived. Since that time, the NIMH has adopted CSP principles and the concept of a ‘community support system’ working to promote this philosophy and approach throughout the country. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and two territories have received Federal assistance to promote and support the formation of Community Support Program Committees.

Here in Pennsylvania, CSP began in 1984 with the formation of a state-wide CSP Advisory Committee to the State Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMSAS). The CSP Advisory Committee was tasked with not only functioning as an advisory body to OMHSAS but also to spread CSP throughout the state. They did this by creating the 4 regional CSP committees (South East, North East, Central and Western) whose task was to promote the development of committees in all the counties in their region. OMHSAS promoted CSP by making adherence to CSP principles in the design and implementation of mental health services mandatory in their mental health contracts with each county in PA and by providing funding for CSP activities.

The State-Wide CSP Advisory Committee has continued to grow and develop over the years and now has become a 75 member strong Advisory/Planning Council, which continues to serve as an advisory body to the State Office of Mental Health ensuring the continued utilization of the CSP principles in the planning and development of community mental health services.

The 4 Regional CSP Committees (South East, North East, Central and Western) are still in existence and are made up of members of the local county CSP committees and provide support and information sharing to the local county committees. Bucks County is part of the Southeast Regional CSP, which consists of Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia and Bucks Counties.

In Bucks County, CSP began in late 1991 with a county-wide meeting of the mental health community organized by our MH/MR Department. That meeting offered training and information about CSP and had speakers from another county that shared their experiences being on a CSP committee. In January of 1992, CSP of Bucks County became a reality with it’s first official committee meeting.

Currently there are 3 CSP committees in Bucks County, one in Lower Bucks, one in Central Bucks and one in Upper Bucks. The three committee structure is a bit unusual as most counties only have 1 committee. However, with 3 committees located geographically throughout the county we have made it easier than ever, in terms of transportation and time, for folks to attend and participate in CSP.

Please visit the Meetings page to get info on the dates and locations of our meetings and to find out what each of the committees is working on.

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