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Consumer participation in mental health services : looking from a consumer perspective
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by J Lammers, Brenda Happell
Widespread changes to the structure and delivery of mental health services have effected considerable change in the role of the service user or consumer. The view of consumers of mental health services as passive recipients of care and treatment is gradually undergoing a significant shift, in light of an increasing expectation that consumers be provided with opportunities to become actively involved in all aspects of their care. Consumer participation is now broadly reflected in government policy; however, to date there has been little exploration of the extent to which the policy is being realized in practice. To provide a greater understanding of these experiences and opinions, in-depth interviews were conducted with consumers of mental health services (n=15). The interview transcripts were analysed through the identification and explication of major themes. The findings reinforce the need to view consumers as heterogenous and respond to individual needs and interests regarding consumer participation. Despite variations in experience there is a clear need to develop mechanisms to support consumer involvement and to influence the attitudes of health professions to become more valuing of a consumer perspective. Nurses are in an ideal position to lead this process.