Over the past 25 years, The Web’s staff and Board of Directors have been strong advocates of peer-driven programs that embrace personal empowerment, self-healing, wellness and recovery, which promote self-advocacy and self-sufficiency. The Web strives to empower consumers to have their voices heard at all levels of government, have a voice in the provision of services and to be treated as equal members of the community. In the early 1990’s, the beginnings of the Consumer Web were very humble, with the solitary goal of providing computer access and internet service to mental health consumers in order to communicate with people all over the world, 7 days a week, much like the internet cafes which were emerging. Our founders felt the internet was an innovative way for mental health consumers to stay connected with family, friends, and others who provide social support, and help address a common issue of isolation many experience in their lives. The dream of utilizing the internet as a way to benefit members by providing a place to share stories and information about recovery, mental illness and addictions was needed. With that dream, the Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web, Inc., (The “Web”), was created, as a non-profit, membership organization. The Web provided a safe place for mental health consumers to access the internet, develop sober supports, and promote recovery, and self-determination.
The Web’s homepage on the internet was registered in 1999. The Web was perhaps the first organization, anywhere, to post stories of recovery, addiction, and consumer resources online. The Web posted information of interest to Alaskan consumers, and was open every day of the week for the first couple of years, even on holidays when mental health systems were closed, The Web was open. One of our founders, Jim Gottstein says, “Those early days were magical, with people enjoying each other’s company, getting peer support, learning computer and internet skills, writing resumes, and getting jobs.”
To see an archive of articles from this time, please visit our Historical Documents page.
Now, 25 years later, The Web continues to evolve, adding additional support services meeting the complex needs of over 2,200 individuals, who are often times homeless, and who come to The Web each year seeking a safe place. In 2012, The Web’s Board of Directors embarked on increasing the number of peer staff who have lived-experience, knowledge and skills to empower consumers in obtaining their individual goals and objectives. Our staff are committed to supporting individuals in pursuing their hopes, dreams, and desires to live life to their fullest actualization. Our Peer-Run groups focus on personal empowerment, self-healing, skill building and promote wellness and recovery. The next phase of The Web’s growth and development was in 2003, with the addition of a Housing Peer Mentor. This new program assisted consumers to navigate the complex and often times very challenging housing system. Then in 2015, an Employment Peer Mentor was added to provide workforce development and employment assistance to members wishing to enter or return to the workforce as a part of their recovery, and to fulfill their desire to live a more independent life.
As a result of this evolved focus, in 2012, The Web updated its mission to:
The Web provides peer-driven, peer support in a safe environment guided
by unconditional positive regard using a recovery-based philosophy.
In 2017, the Web began creating a new presence on the internet by moving our website to its current location, TheWeb.ngo. Which along with a modern user-friendly interface, gives staff the ability to more effectively use an online presence to reach current and potential new members, and provide resources and linkages to additional services. As the program has expanded to meet the needs of members, The Web has outgrown its current building, which is over 40 years old, and is expensive to operate, maintain, and repair, especially during the cold winter months. The limited space is inadequate and not longer meets the daily needs of The Web. The next step in our evolution is to find a new home that will meet the current and future needs of The Web and its members. We are currently in the development stage of this process and encourage you to stay tuned as we move forward in this exciting new endeavor.
We invite you to come visit, participate or volunteer at The Web. For more information on Peer-Run groups, specific programs, and services, please visit our Programs page.