Citing evidence gives credibility to your proposal

This Article has been reprinted from the Fall 2002 issue of The Key, which is a quarterly publication of the National Mental Health Self-Help Clearinghouse

Almost every week, the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse assists groups working on grant proposals by helping them find literature that confirms the value of peer support, advocacy, and consumer-run services.

Even if your ideas about peer support and advocacy came from personal experience, citing scholarly evidence that backs up your ideas gives credibility to your proposal in the eyes of funders.

Some Clearinghouse clients are unfamiliar with supporting research and will seek our help with background reading before they begin work on a proposal. The Clearinghouse library cannot replace a college research library with a staff of professional librarians, but it can provide a head start. The Clearinghouse can also function as a literature memory bank, which is helpful since most people do not keep a list of every article they have read — especially while browsing Web sites and reading email. For example, many Clearinghouse clients have read at least parts of “Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General” or the Center for Mental Health Services publication “Consumer-Operated Services: A Technical Report,” but the Clearinghouse provides reminders that these resources are excellent references to cite in a grant proposal.

We find out what concept a client is trying to substantiate; then we suggest studies that may be helpful. Copyright law prohibits our dissemination of many of the studies themselves, but we are able to direct people to useful research that is available online. To obtain the actual studies only described in these online resources, take the descriptions to a local university library and ask a reference librarian for help locating them.

Finally, for those of you approaching a deadline and adding citations to your grant proposal at the last minute, information from these abstracts may be enough for your purposes without a trip to the library. Call the Clearinghouse for more details about using these studies to enhance your grant proposals: 1-800-553-4539. For the cost of postage, we can also send you some additional supporting literature that we have in our library.

The following is a partial list of online information about the value and efficacy of peer support, self-help, and empowerment. • “Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General” endorses peer support and consumer advocacy: