Helping People Help ThemselvesFederation of Organizations is a multi-service, community-based social welfare agency operating programs that utilize peer support within a self-help model. We develop programs that are designed to meet the needs of special populations, such as people recovering from mental illness, the homeless, low-income seniors and at-risk children. For more than 35 years, Federation, a not-for-profit corporation, has been working to improve services to people with disabilities and their families through education, information and referral services, legislative action and program development.
Mission StatementFederation assists individuals and families in meeting their own needs within communities through self-help, provision of quality services, advocacy and development of resources. We help individuals and communities flourish by helping people to help themselves become productive participants in community life.
Federation of Organizations was incorporated in 1972 as an alliance of mental health advocacy groups. These groups were comprised of relatives of individuals who were patients in psychiatric centers in New York State. At that time, each center had a “concerned citizens group” or “hospital guild” that worked to improve conditions for patients through direct services and advocacy. Usually, these groups were made up of family members who were advocating for good treatment and safe environments for their loved ones. During this period, the standard treatment for mental illness was indefinite hospitalization.
With the advent of psychotropic medication, impelled by financial considerations and the civil rights movement, the early 1970s saw the return of many people to the community, rather than enduring long-term hospitalization. Two-thirds of the patients released from hospitals in the first wave of deinstitutionalization went back to their families of origin. There were, unfortunately, very few support services in the community, and the responsibility of supporting these individuals was placed on the family.
Family members were prominent among those who advocated for resources to be developed in the community. It was a long fight, but now it is clearly recognized that community treatment is the best path to recovery from mental illness. The struggle for resources continues and there are many challenges before us, especially the pressure for cost containment.
Federation was organized during the era of hospital-based care, and has remained a leader in the development of community-based social model mental health services for people living with mental illness. In 1981, we developed a program to employ individuals with psychiatric illness to assist in the provision of services, and we have been a pioneer in this field ever since.