Programs & Services

Our Mission

To carry a message of recovery, empowerment, hope and healing to people with lived experience with mental health issues, trauma, and/or extreme states.


As a consumer/survivor/expatient-run organization, we carry out our mission with authority, as each of us is living a personal journey of recovery and empowerment. We are convinced that recovery and empowerment are not the privilege of a few exceptional leaders, but rather are possible for each person with lived experience. Whether on the back ward of a state mental institution or working as an executive in a corporation, we want people who are mental health consumers/survivors/expatients to know there is a place to turn to in order to receive the information they might need in order to regain control over their lives and the resources that affect their lives. That place is the National Empowerment Center.

Training and Education

NEC staff speak at conferences, both large and small. We often give keynote addresses on topics such as recovery, empowerment, advocacy and self-help. Our workshops include the Hearing Voices Workshop (see the NEC store for details), as well as workshops focusing on trauma, women’s issues in mental health, recovery strategies, alternative/complimentary services and re-visioning mental health systems on a recovery model. We receive dozens of requests every year to speak at conferences. We estimate that in 2004 through lecturing we were able to bring a message of recovery and empowerment, hope and healing, to 30,000 people.

Please see the video below for an example of an advocacy talk prepared during one of our workshops, the Finding Our Voice Training.

If you are interested in arranging for an NEC staff person to offer a keynote address or workshop, or to do more intensive consultation with your organization, feel free to contact us.

If you would like to request Oryx Cohen to give a presentation in your area, click here to complete this form.

If you would like to request Dan Fisher to give a presentation in your area, click here to complete this form.

Information and Referral

NEC has a toll-free information and referral line. You can reach us Monday through Friday, Eastern Standard Time, during regular work hours. A Spanish speaking information specialist is also available. We have a great deal of information about topics such as advance directives, shock treatment, schizophrenia, self-help groups and advocacy organizations in your area, meditation and self-help techniques, coping with depression, and more. If we don’t have the information you need, we will work with you to find it. Give us a call!

Toll free: 800-POWER2U (800-769-3728)
Outside the U.S.: 978-685-1494
Local: 978-685-1494

Remember, we are not a crisis line and do not provide counseling over the phone. If you are in a crisis, we can refer you to help and supports in your area.


The NEC keeps updated lists of consumer-run organization and advocacy groups in all 50 states. We are also active in the cross-disability movement and can help you network with independent living centers and disability rights groups across the country.

Conference Planning

The National Empowerment Center is a National Technical Assistance Center funded, in part, by the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). In that capacity we coordinate and host the National Alternatives Conference on an every other year basis. The Alternatives Conference is a completely consumer/survivor/ex-patient run, national conference where hundreds of us come together to share ideas, network, and celebrate our movement. Check our website for detailed information about the Alternatives Conference.

The National Empowerment Center has also sponsored two Learning From Us Conferences. These conferences are unique because the entire faculty is comprised of psychiatric consumer/survivors/ex-patients who share their expertise with mental health professionals, educators and policy makers. If a state or region is interested in hosting a Learning From Us Conference, feel free to contact us at 1-800-POWER2U. To purchase audiotapes and videotapes of Learning From Us Conferences, see the NEC Store.

Publishing and Media

NEC staff are internationally recognized authors with many publications and books. Our papers are represented in professional journals, scholastic books, popular press and alternative publications. We feel that it is important to bring the perspective of consumer/survivors/ex-patients to a broad range of readers. See the NEC Store for a list of available publications.

NEC staff have also been featured in the media in an effort to break the myths surrounding mental illness. We have been featured on CNN, U.S.A. Today, The Boston Globe, National Public Radio and many talk and radio shows in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel.

Policy Issues

NEC feels that it is imperative for consumer/survivor/ex-patient views to be represented at the table where policy decisions are made. At every opportunity NEC staff meet with policy makers: at the White House, in Congress, in federal agencies such as HUD, the Social Security Administration, HCFA, the Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation, and The President’s Commission on Disability, and at the regional and local level with organizations such as HMO’s and state divisions of mental health programs.

Representation on National Boards

NEC staff participate on many national boards and committees. We are committed to ensuring that the voice of consumer/survivors/ex-patients are heard at all levels of decision making. For example, we have been on the boards of the National Association for Rights, Protection and Advocacy (NARPA) and the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA).

NEC’s Executive Director Dan Fisher served on the White House New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Dan saw his role as giving voice to the millions of mental health consumers, survivors, and ex-patients who are often without a voice. Dan’s participation was pivotal in assuring that the Commission Report included the vision of creating a future when everyone with a mental illness will recover.  He continues to be involved in the implementation of the Commission report.


NEC staff has conducted qualitative research on how people recover from mental illness. We also participate in research projects as consultants and as research subjects. In addition, we have participated on boards and committees to review research proposals and to advocate for research projects that are important to consumers/survivors/ex-patients.

Development of Educational Resources

NEC seeks to carry a message of hope and healing, recovery and empowerment, to professionals as well as consumers/survivors/ex-patients. Thus the development of learning tools and educational resources is an ongoing part of our work. Towards this end we have developed educational resources such as video-trainings on consumers working as providers and working with people who appear unmotivated. We have developed technical assistance booklets on topics such as removing barriers to successful participation of consumers/survivors/ex-patients on boards and committees. We have developed curriculum such as the Hearing Voices Workshop that allow professionals to experience what it is like to hear distressing voices while having to engage in various tasks. See our articles and the NEC Store for more information about these and other resources for professionals.

Development of Self-Help Resources

NEC understands that self-help and mutual support are the cornerstones of consumer-run services. Learning to help ourselves and to reach out to others is an important part of the recovery and empowerment process. Thus the development of self-help resources is an ongoing part of our work. We have developed booklets on the recovery process and techniques for coping with distressing voices. Our articles are filled with suggestions for self-help including gaining access to personal care attendants, the use of service dogs, where to turn for help if you have tardive dyskinesia or dystonia, and how to regain your power during medication appointments with your psychiatrist. Check our Articles and the NEC Store for more information about our self-help resources.

How to Contact Us

Toll free: 800-POWER2U (800-769-3728)
Outside the U.S.: 978-685-1494
Local: 978-685-1494
Fax: 978-681-6426

Email: Please use our contact form located at