Community Support Program (CSP)

The Community Support Program (CSP) of Pennsylvania is a coalition of mental health consumers, family members and professionals working to help adults with serious mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders live successfully in the community. The statewide coalition links CSP nationally with regional and local CSP's throughout the State.

In 1984, the State Office of Mental Health (OMH) was awarded one of National Institute of Mental Health Technical Assistance Grants to help adopt the CSP model within state planning processes.

At this time, Pennsylvania's State CSP Advisory Committee was formed. A group of consumers, family advocates and professionals/providers was invited to serve on this statewide committee. Their purpose was to meet on a monthly basis to advise the Commonwealth's Office of Mental Health on issues and strategies for the development of Community Support Systems. The committee structure also provided the means for these three constituent groups to find common ground and form an alliance to advise the State Office of Mental Health on recommended priorities. The State CSP Advisory Committee eventually evolved into a working group of 22 members equally representing consumers, family members and professionals from the four regions of the state. Despite changes in state leadership, staff and membership, this committee has served its constituents faithfully over the past 16 years.

CSP Principles

  • Consumer-Centered/Consumer-Empowered
    Services are based upon the needs of the individual and incorporate self-help and other approaches that allow consumers to retain the greatest possible control over their own lives.
  • Culturally Competent
    Services are sensitive and responsive to racial, ethnic, religious and gender differences of consumers and families.
  • Designed to Meet Special Needs
    Services are designed to meet the needs of persons with mental illness who are also affected by such factors as old age, substance abuse, physical illness or disability, mental retardation, homelessness or involvement with the criminal justice system.
  • Community-Based/Natural Supports
    Services are provided in the least coercive manner and in the most natural settings possible. Consumers are encouraged to use natural supports in the community and to integrate into the living, working, learning and leisure activities of the community.
  • Flexible
    Services are designed to allow people to move in and out of the system and within the system as needed.
  • Coordinated
    Treatment services and supports are coordinated on both the local system level and on an individual consumer basis in order to reduce fragmentation and to improve efficiency and effectiveness with service delivery. Coordination includes linkages with consumers, families, advocates and professionals at every level of the system of care.
  • Accountable
    Service providers are accountable to the users of services and include consumers and families in planning, development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluating services.
  • Strengths-based
    Services build upon the assets and strengths of consumers and help people maintain a sense of identity, self-esteem and dignity.

Persons with serious mental illness will be given priority in the provision of treatment, services and supports.

Description of the Revised CSP Wheel

For over 20 years, the national Community Support Program (CSP) Principles have had a dramatic impact on the way systems planners conceptualize organizing services, supports and opportunities to help mental health consumers reach their full potential in our society.

The Wheel is designed to meet the needs of people with mental illness as well as those who suffer from co-occurring disorders (e.g., mental illness and substance use disorders). The central focus of community support programs is to facilitate the recovery process and personal growth of each mental health consumer.

CSP Principles remain unchanged and are portrayed in the Wheel's middle circle to support the recovery process and provide the bedrock for the way service system components are delivered. Essential community support system components include meaningful work, community mobility, psychiatric rehabilitation, leisure, recreation and education.

While the revised CSP Wheel still prioritizes mental health consumers who have the most serious psychiatric illnesses, it is acknowledged that the model is beneficial to: a) many other consumers whose psychiatric disorders continue to disrupt their lives, b) consumers who have sufficiently progressed in their recovery to the point where their psychiatric conditions can no longer be deemed serious. Non-public systems are encouraged to adopt the Model.

People can and do recover from mental illness. The center circle of the Pennsylvania revised CSP Wheel portrays recovery as a multi-dimensional concept. Hope is the anchor point upon which recovery is based. Demonstrating respect for the consumer supports his or her hopefulness and nurtures the person's self-esteem. When people convey trust in the consumer, it strengthens the consumer's confidence and motivation to assume increased responsibility for taking control of one's own life. The eight factors listed on the Wheel are important antecedents for Recovery:

CPS Wheel

The CSP Wheel

  •  Hope
  • Competence
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Understanding
  • Wellness
  • Choice
  • Spirituality 

Components of a Community Support System

The Recovery model incorporates the following components of a Community Support Program. These components are essential resources in recovery:

  • Treatment and support
  • Family and friends
  • Peer support
  • Meaningful work
  • Income support
  • Community mobility
  • Community groups and organizations 
  • Protection and advocacy 
  • Psychiatric rehabilitation
  • Leisure and recreation
  • Education
  • Housing
  • Health care 

How OMHSAS Supports CSP

The Community Support Program of Pennsylvania is a coalition of mental health consumers, family members and professionals working to help adults with serious mental illnesses live successfully in the community. Our statewide coalition links CSP nationally with regional and local Community Support Programs throughout the state. To learn more about getting involved with a local CSP visit: