Our History

Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients (ACNMHC) was born out of the activism and organizing of the 1960s and '70s.  As psychiatric institutions, known for inhumane treatment and isolation, were shut down throughout the 1950s and 60's many former psychiatric inmates found one another and connected about their experiences.  There was a nationwide movement for the civil and human rights of people with mental health challenges, alongside other movements lead 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.  This was the beginning of the consumer movement.

ACNMHC 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 5 programs in the "Network" led by people who have lived-experience* within the mental health community.

lived-experience: “We are experts by experience—people who have lived with mental health conditions, people who've been suicidal, people who are trauma survivors. That is just as valuable as the kind of academic credentials that people earn. And it’s incredibly important that we work together as partners.”-Leah Harris (a person who has lived with suicidal thoughts or behavior).

Our Mission and Values


Our Mission Statement:

Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients (ACNMHC) improves the quality of life of the mental health community within Alameda County by promoting freedom of choice, empowerment, and independent living within the community.

We accomplish this mission by supporting Peer-developed and run programs and advocating for a true Peer-responsive mental health system.

Our Values:

  • People with mental health challenges have the right to determine their own pathways to recovery and wellness.

  • Each person has a unique understanding of their own mental health experiences and what supports they need to manage them.

  • All people have the right to safe housing, healthy food, accessible and appropriate health care, meaningful relationships, and a sense of connection with their community.

Covers of the psychiatric survivor newsletter Madness Network News 
from the start of the consumer movement.
Sally Zinman, consumer advocate and co-founder of the Network, with Katrina Killian, Network Executive Director,
at our 25th Anniversary celebration in 2014.