On Our Own, Transforming the Future Together

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery is seeking a location for Alternatives to be held summer 2019 in or near Washington, DC again. When a conference site is found, an announcement will be on this website and emailed to everyone who attended last year or is on our email list.

We hope to have more information soon.

The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) is proud to host the 2018 Alternatives Conference which will be held in Washington, D.C. from July 29 through August 3, 2018. The site of the conference is the Catholic University of America which is strategically placed in the nation’s capital, not far from Capitol Hill. A pre-conference Hill Day will offer a hands-on, grassroots opportunity for us to organize, raise our voices and be heard by our federal representatives. A special pre-conference advocacy training day on Monday will provide coaching and logistical support in educating our congress, followed by our movement's first day on the Hill on Tuesday. The conference will open on Tuesday evening followed by workshops and other activities Wednesday through Friday (morning).

The Alternatives conference will be held at the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center.

 Click photo to learn more about the Pryzbyla Conference Center at Catholic University

Click photo to learn more about the Pryzbyla Conference Center at Catholic University

For directions, put Edward J. Pryzbyla Center or McMahon Parking Lot into a gps.

For conference and dorm room check in, please come to the Pryzbyla Center Information Desk.



We thank you for participating in Alternatives 2018, the People’s Alternatives Conference, in Washington, DC!

Many of you took part in the pre-conference advocacy training and Hill Day, speaking to legislators about your mental health priorities and recommendations. Many of you presented or participated in keynote plenary sessions, workshops, caucuses, and/or special sessions sponsored by the Diversity Committee. Many of you created art in the arts drop-in center, and/or displayed in or visited the exhibit area. Many of you shared your talent, or enjoyed the offerings at the open mic or had fun at the dance. Many of you took the opportunity to make new friends and create new networks. However you participated, your presence contributed to the success of Alternatives 2018.

We especially want to thank you if you volunteered in any way to help create and carry out this conference! Without you, it could not have happened!

We hope you learned something new, connected with old friends and made some new ones. We hope you got inspired to go back to your communities and share what you’ve learned, and will continue the amazing work you do to advance the opportunities for freedom, justice, and choice in mental health services, in the community, and beyond. We hope you know how special and important you are, and how much you matter to this movement. Your thoughts and opinions matter to us, so please take the time to share them with us.



We would like your feedback about your conference experience. Please complete this anonymous online survey even If you’ve already completed the evaluation at the conference, as we have added a few additional questions. We invite you to leave as many comments as you would like. The survey is available here: 


Recordings Available: 

Thanks to Melinda Hasbrouck, we have recordings of conference sessions for purchase. We appreciate that Melinda did the recording without being paid and is charging a reasonable price to purchase recordings. Keynote/Plenary/Closing Sessions and Workshops were recorded when the presenter gave advance permission. CDs, MP3s, and DVDs (for some sessions) are available for purchase at https://www.royhas.com/alternatives2018

Prices and lists of sessions available for purchase are listed. Questions? Contact Melinda at melinda@royhas.com or 202-538-0006.


CEUs (Continuing Education Units):

If you would like Continuing Education Credit for Alternatives conference attendance, take your record of all sessions you attended, attach the Certificate of Attendance from the conference and, send it to your certifying organization. If you need a Certificate of Attendance, please reply to this email and we will email you one. (We have the record of who attended the conference.)


Keynote Speakers

The Alternatives planning committee is pleased to announce the keynote speakers for the conference. Follow this link to learn about the selected keynote speakers.


Conference program

The complete conference program is available now online.



Over 70 workshops will be presented on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. See the Workshop page for the workshop schedule.


Honor peer leaders in your community

At each Alternatives Conference, awards are given to people who have contributed to our community. Thank you for your nominations. The awards will be presented at Alternatives Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m.



Alternatives 2018 is in need of sponsors for the conference. Please consider sponsoring the conference or giving scholarships to attendees from your area. Additional information about sponsorships on the "Sponsorship page."



At this time, we do not have funds available to provide scholarships for the Alternatives Conference. We recommend that conference attendees seek funding from local organizations and agencies. Potential funding sources include your employer, state- and city-wide mental health advocacy groups, peer-run and consumer-run groups, and disability rights advocacy organizations. The Funding for Alternatives section of this website has additional ideas.


Continuing Education Units (CEs)

The Alternatives Conference is approved by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW Approval #886758713-8997) for 10.5 continuing education contact hours (CEs) for workshop attendance. Many organizations accept their approval. For people who are working as Certified Peer Specialists, your local organization may have requirements for continuing education units. Most accept a certificate that lists contact hours which can be obtained at the conference.


Arts at Alternatives

Arts events at Alternatives include a number of workshops, the drop-in arts room, Open Mic on Wednesday evening, and a Dance/Celebration on Thursday evening.


Alternatives Conference Service Dog Policy

If you are bringing your certified service animal to the conference, the University would like to know in advance. They need a note from your doctor stating that the animal is necessary. Please email info@ncmhr.org and we’ll give you information about how to contact the University.

The behavior of service dogs is, at all times, the responsibility of the handler, as is any damage done by the dog. Handlers are expected to clean up every time their service dog eliminates. Service dogs are expected to be clean, healthy, well behaved, on a leash, and always under the handler’s control or the control of another responsible adult. If a dog is aggressive toward another dog or a human being, it will not be allowed near the conference. This is to protect the safety of both people and animals. 


Additional Information

The Alternatives conference is the oldest and largest conference of its kind, organized and hosted for more than three decades by peers for peers (people with lived experience of the behavioral health system, emotional distress/crisis, trauma, substance use, and/or addiction). Alternatives is renowned for offering the latest and best information in the peer recovery movement, and provides an invaluable opportunity for peers to network with and learn from one another. This conference is funded entirely through registration fees and donations.

Learn More → Our Mission

Learn More → Our History

This is the PEOPLE's Alternatives: We are going back to our roots when we used to gather on college campuses.

Catholic University encourages “serious and sustained discourse among people of different faiths, cultures, and beliefs, and promotes intellectual, ethical and spiritual understanding. We embody this principle in the diversity of our students, faculty and staff, our commitment to justice and the common good, our intellectual openness, and our international character.” The Alternatives conference strives to be a welcoming environment for all people, and we have been assured that all of our attendees, whatever their faith or lack of faith, will be treated with respect.


Travel and Lodging Information

The Edward J Pryzbyla University Center is a searchable location on your GPS. However, if you are using an Uber/Lyft Service, cab, or driving by yourself, please place McMahon Parking Lot in your GPS as it will direct you to the front of the Pryzbyla Center. 

Driving to park in the McMahon Parking Lot: From Michigan Avenue, turn by the Basilica. Go right on the roundabout to the Basilica, drive along the right side of the basilica. At the stop sign, turn right into McMahon Parking Lot. Walk down the ramp to the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center, a glass, modern building.

We have rented two golf carts and have volunteers to help drive people around campus Tuesday-Friday. We can also pick you up on campus near the metro stop. Just call 385-251-4931 to ask to be picked up by the golf cart.

This link has directions for travel to Catholic University by car, train, or from airports. https://www.catholic.edu/resources/Maps%20and%20Directions/index.html

Additional information about travel and arrival information available on this page.


All photography provided by Jared Chambers


Schedule At A Glance

Start planning your Alternatives 2018 experience now with the online schedule of events.

 Learn More →


Workshop Proposals

Would you like to present at Alternatives?

 Find Out How →