Frequently Asked Questions about OCTA

What is OCTA?

OCTA is The Office of Consumer Technical Assistance. OCTA offers technical assistance and trainings to foster self-determination, self-help, and peer empowerment among consumer/survivors throughout the state of Oregon. We want to ensure consumer/survivor voices are heard during all phases of the decision-making process and at all levels of the process (local, state, and national).

What does OCTA mean by "Consumer"?

A "consumer" is a person who has experienced mental health issues in the past or is currently experiencing mental health issues. A consumer may have a formal diagnosis, but a person doesn’t need to have a diagnosis in order to identify as a consumer. While OCTA tends to use the term "consumer," we respect other words people use to self-identify such as psychiatric survivor, ex-patient, patient, or client.

What does OCTA mean by "Technical Assistance"?

"Technical Assistance" refers to direct, hands-on help such as providing referrals; sharing resources; awarding seed grants to start new consumer projects; sharing information; and assisting with costs associated with participating in consumer-related activities. We also conduct needs assessments to help consumer groups define their goals and focus. Finally, we offer trainings on various topics including peer-empowerment; fundraising; how to serve on an advisory board; conflict resolution; and so forth. We are happy to customize programs to fit the needs of your group.

Are the people who work at OCTA professional counselors?

Nope. We are your peers. We are consumers/survivors ourselves. We don’t offer therapy or legal advice (although we can give you referrals to these resources). What we do offer is technical assistance and trainings. Everything we offer is designed to foster the empowerment and self-determination of mental health consumer/survivors through the development of new skills, knowledge, and networking opportunities.

Why would consumers want to create consumer-run activities?

Self-help is a powerful tool for recovery. It builds community when we meet with other people in situations similar to our own. We help each other by building supportive peer networks.

Which types of consumer-run activities can we create?

We can help you organize consumer-run drop-in centers, support groups, warmlines, newsletters, businesses, fundraisers, and so forth.

Why would consumers want to get involved in decisions about mental health systems or the delivery of mental health services?

Mental health consumer/survivors have valuable insights, experiences, and perspectives regarding mental health systems and the delivery of those services. Mental health consumer/survivors are also the people whom mental health systems impact most dramatically and intimately. Therefore, it is important that they actively contribute to the decision-making processes that affect the design, implementation, and delivery of mental health services.

How can consumers get involved in decision-making processes related to mental health issues?

Mental Health Organizations (MHOs) and county governments often have consumers on their advisory boards and—in some cases—they are required to allow consumers on the boards. (If you are interested in learning more about your county’s board or your MHOs’ board, give us a call and we can send you some information.) There are also state and national boards and organizations in which consumer/survivors can become involved. In short, there are many opportunities. Call us if you’d like specific information.

How much does OCTA charge for its services?

They are absolutely free to most groups.

Who funds OCTA?

The State of Oregon funds OCTA through the Department of Human Services, Office of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

What should I do now?

Call OCTA to request more detailed information about our organization and what we have to offer. Ask to be on our mailing list, or sign up to be on our email list. Brainstorm with other consumers in your area, and let us know what your group wants to achieve and how we can help you succeed. Not sure what your group might want to do? Call us and we’ll meet with you to do a needs assessment. This will help your group focus on a project or a goal. Call, fax, email, or write to us and let us know how we can help!