Project Return Peer Support Network was founded by John Siegel, Rhoda Zussman and Richard Van Horn of the Mental Health Association of Los Angeles County in 1979. It was California’s first staff-facilitated peer support program for people with mental illness.
In 1992 Project Return adopted the name Project Return: The Next Step to reflect a transition to a client-operated program in response to the client empowerment movement and clients’ need for a greater voice in designing and running programs. Services were expanded to include over 55 clubs with a total of over 800 members.
The Friendship Line, now known as the Warm Line, received its first call in 1999. The purpose of the line was to share experiences, rather than deal with crises. It continues to operate 365 days a year and is staffed entirely by consumers who provide and listening ears to callers during the hours when the services they rely on for help are closed.
In 2001 Un Paso Mas was created in response to the lack of services and resources in communities within Los Angeles County. By partnering with schools, parks, and churches, Un Paso Mas is able to serve individuals and families with mental health needs in Southeast Los Angeles County. Today, Un Paso Mas serves the community with a walk-in center for referrals to community or government resources for housing, mental health services, health services, and other needs. UPM offers sixteen weekly support groups, holds quarterly workshops regularly conducts outreach to local government representatives, health and wellness agencies and participates in local health fairs to raise awareness of services.
In 2009 El Centrito de Apoyo was established to create a space for mutual support–helping people achieve their personal goals and maintain an independent life in the community. Since first opening its doors, El Centrito has grown to include groups which focus on mental health topics and recreational groups which facilitate recovery through the arts, music, and physical activity such as yoga and Zumba. Daily attendance averages over 40 people, almost exclusively Latino. Workshops are held in collaboration with the Red Cross and Department of Mental Health workers in the Promotoras program on topics such as the citizenship process and public health issues. El Centrito also offers the use of computers, printers, and fax machines for individuals in the community to use to job search, find housing, and develop social connectedness through email or social networks.
In 2010 PRPSN became an independent, peer-run 501(c)(3) whose services included 100+ self-help groups, a bridging project to help individuals between locked facilities and community living, a Spanish-language client-run center and a peer support phone line for English and Spanish speakers.
Hacienda of Hope opened its doors in 2014 as one the first Peer-Run Respite Care Homes in Los Angeles County. Funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Hacienda of Hope serves guests eighteen years and older who are in psychiatric distress but not a danger to self or others. During their temporary stay guests receive support with activities of daily living, attend peer-run support groups, participate in extracurricular and recreational activities and are linked to outside services and natural community supports.
In 2015 PRPSN was recognized by Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health as its own legal entity and expanded its breadth and depth as a contract provider to include: IMD step-down, Peer support/peer counseling/peer mentoring services, alternative crisis support, bridging and support services, workforce training and development, wellness centers/client run centers, and innovation services.