Consumer Involvement & Initiatives

The history of the consumer movement highlights the importance of critique, collaboration, participation, and continuous renegotiation of the terms on which mental health care is built.

Our Work

The Consumer Involvement and Initiatives program amplifies the voice of mental health and substance use service users within Vancouver Coastal Health.

It includes research, representation on boards and committees, and employment opportunities. The overarching program provides recovery support and includes peer-delivered services such as the Consumer Initiative Fund Program, Vancouver Peer Support Program, and Peer Facilitated Workshops.


Early 1990’s

The first individuals with lived experience with mental health services are employed at Vancouver Mental Health Services (the Greater Vancouver Mental Health Services Society, a registered non-profit organization.)


The Consumer Initiative Fund is established.


A formal Peer Support Training program is established. Since that time, other peer services have been introduced into Vancouver Mental Health Services.


Vancouver Mental Health Services (now part of the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board) initiates a long-term project to work with consumers of mental health services to determine new ways of engaging them in planning, implementation, and evaluation of mental health service delivery in Vancouver.


The Consumer Involvement and Initiatives Plan is completed and endorsed in principle by Vancouver Mental Health Services, now part of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. The result of extensive community consultation, the report identifies priorities and strategies to further effective and meaningful involvement of consumers in services that contribute to their own recovery.


By 2011 the Consumer Involvement and Initiative (CI&I) had grown to include a Peer Led Workshop program providing mental health and wellness workshops to mental health team clients. Over the subsequent years the Peer Led Workshop program has expanded to include community programming, and support groups. CI&I also has a renewed mandate to support broader public participation on service committees and advisory work.

mid 2010’s

In addition to the expansion of the now Vancouver Coastal Health mental health consumer programs, the language used and system services are also evolving. The term consumer is joined by a variety of other options reflecting the advancements in the service user movement. Terms like person with lived and living experience, psychiatric survivor, ex-patient, and peer the most widely used, are some preferred terms. At the same time in Vancouver there is also a move to expand services to people with substance use and mental health issues. Operating from a recovery-oriented philosophy, this mental health and substance use (MHSU) service embraces the concepts of harm reduction and trauma informed care as its service foundations.


Consumer Involvement and Initiatives joins a group of staff, community members and the Canadian Mental Health Association Vancouver – Fraser and North and West Vancouver branches to explore a new model of wellness programming with the intention of starting one in the Greater Vancouver area.  The Recovery College model employees peers to help with course co-design, program co-production, and course delivery.


Recovery College YVR, a Community Wellness Centre is launched. Initial programming offered in Vancouver is from our Peer Led Workshop program. Collaboration with our other programs is in the works.

After a five year absence the newly revised Peer Support Worker training is launched.

The Lived Experience Advisory Network (LEAN) is launched.
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