The Peer Wellness Collective, formerly known as Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients (ACNMHC), was born out of the activism of the 1960s and 70s. As psychiatric institutions known for inhumane treatment and isolation were shut down throughout the 1950s and 60s, many former psychiatric inmates found one another and connected through their experiences. This led to a nationwide movement for the civil and human rights of people with mental health challenges, alongside other movements led by black folks, Indigenous Peoples, LGBTQIA+ individuals, womxn, Latinx (Latino/Latina) folks, and people with disabilities.
Primarily focused on the abuses they had experienced within the mental health system, this movement of ex-patients or psychiatric survivors created peer-run programs to support one another, marking the beginning of the consumer movement. Peer Wellness Collective was founded in 1988 by pioneers of this movement to support peer-run, self-help services for people with mental health and/or substance use challenges in Alameda County, CA. Today, we have six programs in the “Collective” led by people who have lived-experience* within the mental health community.