Community Links is a voluntary program that matches peers or community members with people who have court orders of non-hospitalization or involuntary commitment, are dependent on the mental health system for assistance and support, and/or feel isolated from their community due to mental health difficulties.
These peers or community members have been trained to assist and support others in developing positive reciprocal relationships, regaining their independence, integrating themselves in their community, and improving the overall quality of their lives. The Community Links relationship diminishes over time as the person develops natural supports and becomes more comfortable in the community.
This program is based on the findings of the Moving Ahead Research Project (Shery Mead and Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, co-principal investigators, Vermont Real Choices Grant, 2004). In this qualitative research project, the researchers interviewed 28 people who were on orders of non-hospitalization or involuntary commitment. They found that people want to end their dependency on the mental health system, become more fully integrated into the community of their choice, develop the skills and strategies needed for independence, and work toward meeting their own life dreams and goals.