South Carolina Department of Mental Health

“The Role of Self Identified Employees at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health: State Office of Client Affairs, Client-to-Client Evaluation and Training Team, Client Affairs Coordinators and Certified Peer Support Specialist”

Mission: "The mission of the Office of Client Affairs is to support the SCDMH Recovery Initiative through steering, continually developing and supporting client leaders for persons served thru the South Carolina Department of Mental Health".

State Office of Client Affairs
In South Carolina, the client affairs initiative was established in 1990 and the Department of Mental Health established a State Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) in 1994. The program began as an empowerment initiative to bring current or former users of mental health services to the management tables of mental health systems as planners, policy-makers, program evaluators, community educators, and service providers. Today, the Office of Client Affairs continues to develop, steer and support client leaders for persons served thru the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. Core elements of a successful Office of Client Affairs include:

National Association of Consumer/Survivor Mental Health Administrators (NAC/SMHA)

The role of the OCA Director is to:

Client-to-Client Evaluation and Training Team
Falling under the direction of the OCA is the Client-to-Client Evaluation and Training Team (CCETT). Becoming operational in 1998, CCETT, was an entirely client-run evaluation/survey process. In 2005, CCETT shifted focus concentrating its evaluation and training efforts on the newly implemented Peer Support Service.
The CCET coordinator and trainer(s) are responsible for:

Local Office of Client Affairs
Client Affairs Coordinators (CAC’s) are internal agents of change who voice the client perspective during key meetings and policy sessions. They strive to overcome stigma in the community as well as well as within the agency, giving hope to clients, staff and families that people with mental illnesses can and do recover. All seventeen community mental health centers as well as the DMH in-patient facilities may employ a Client Affairs Coordinator. The job of a CAC is a management position. CAC’s perform a variety of valued job functions within the agency key roles include:

Certified Peer Support Specialists
The Peer Support Service is provided by self-identified clients of mental health services, who have successfully demonstrated their own efforts at self-directed recovery and who have been hired by the mental health center or advocacy organization to provide clinical skill building services to clients. Certified Peer Support Specialists (CPSS) complete a 30- hour training program and must pass both a written and oral test to become certified. Peer Support is a helping relationship between a client and Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS) encouraging respect, trust, and warmth. The service empowers clients to make changes and decisions to enhance their lives. The job of a CPSS is not to replace current clinical mental health staff but to offer additional and/or alternative options to help clients in their efforts to recover. Services that CPSS’s Provide:

All Self-Identified Employees

Self-identified client employees should not be treated any differently than any other SCDMH employee and are subject to the same directives and policies. They should have the ability to demonstrate recovery expertise including knowledge of approaches to support others in recovery and dual recovery, as well as the ability to demonstrate their own efforts at self-directed recovery. In addition, they should have one year of active participation in a local or national mental health client movement, which is evidenced by previous volunteer or work experience. Beyond a demonstration of personal mental health stability, self-identified client employees should be:

In additional to their management and/or clinical responsibilities, self-identified client employees serve as recovery role models for each client, staff, family and community member they come into contact with. The willingness to publicly disclose their mental illness and triumphs associated with recovery go a long way in dispelling the stigma of mental illness and prove that treatment works.