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Support Groups, Statewide Consumer Organizations, and Drop-In Centers

Office of Consumer Relations

Michael B. Autrey, Director

1-800-832-0952 Toll Free
334-242-3456 Montgomery Area
334-242-3025 Fax

The Alabama Office of Consumer and Ex-Patient Relations was established in 1990. It was the first office of its kind in the nation. The purpose of the office is to infuse the consumer perspective into the decision-making process and management of the Division of Mental Illness Services of the Alabama Department of Mental Health. The Office of Consumer Relations works closely with consumers, consumer operated programs, advocacy and self-help organizations around the state.

The Office of Consumer Relations also provides a toll free line for consumers to call the office. This line provides access to information on the various mental illnesses, information on starting a support group, information on available mental health services, upcoming events, and technical assistance. This line provides a central contact point for consumers around the state, to contact the department to help them navigate the often complicated mental health system. The line is also there for consumers when they just need someone to talk to.

The Office of Consumer Relations also provides training on consumer sensitivity, the consumer perspective and recovery, to consumer groups, caregivers, law enforcement and the general public.



LISTEN is the newsletter of the Office of Consumer Relations. It has a circulation of 5,000 and is available free of charge.

Summer 2012
Summer 2011
Winter 2011

The RESPECT Awards

At the Recovery Conference each year the Office of Consumer Relations presents the RESPECT Awards. RESPECT awards are presented to caregivers, whether professional, family, friend, or fellow consumers, who are consistently respectful to persons with a mental illness. The winners are selected by a panel of consumers. The RESPECT Award has become a high honor for those who are involved in mental illness activities in Alabama. To find out how to nominate someone for this award, contact the Office of Consumer Relations.

2010 RESPECT Award Winners
  • Danny Hall
  • Melissa Hiley
  • Hazel Moore
  • Jamerson Baker
  • Andrea Williams
  • Dawn Price
  • Doris Holmes
  • Dr. James Wall
  • Kristi Myricks
  • Lori Bethune
  • Kathleen Miller
  • Lynda Bice
  • Brenda Evans
  • Barbara Tidmore
  • Glenda Wilson
  • Dr. James Reeder
  • Cathy Fleming
  • Lillian Butler
The Hope Award

The Hope Award is also presented each year at the Annual Alabama Recovery Conference. The Hope Award is given to an individual who does the most to unify the various stakeholders in the mental illness arena, consumers, family members, the Alabama Department of Mental Health and the community mental health centers.

Previous Hope Award Winners
  • 1993 Joel Slack
  • 1994 Emmett Poundstone
  • 1995 Rogene Parris
  • 1996 David Cannon
  • 1997 Sandra Wimmer
  • 1998 Patricia Martin
  • 1999 Sharon Mason
  • 2000 Roy Willingham
  • 2001 The Visionary Guild
  • 2002 Kathy Sawyer
  • 2004 Shocco Springs Conference Center
  • 2008 John Houston
  • 2009 Molly Brooms
The Alabama Directions Council

The Alabama Directions Council serves as the advisory board to the Office of Consumer Relations. It plays a major role in planning the consumer movement in Alabama. The Directions Council also plans the Annual Recovery Conference and selects the RESPECT Award winners. The Council is made up of the leaders of the self-help/support groups and drop-in centers from around the state, statewide consumer operated programs and the Consumer Support Specialist Program.

Certified Peer Support Specialist Program

The Alabama Department of Mental Health first established the position of peer support specialist in 1994 at Greil Hospital. In 2002 the program was expanded to the rest of the state mental illness facilities. In 2007 the department began expanding peer support into the community by a certification program which will allow peer specialist services to be Medicaid billable.

A peer support specialist is a person who experienced mental illness themselves, working within a state mental illness facility or community mental health center. They assist individuals who are receiving treatment to regain control over their lives and pursue recovery from their mental illness.

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