Consumer participation in mental health in Australia: what progress is being made?
Browne, G & Hemsley, M 2008, 'Consumer participation in mental health in Australia: what progress is being made?', Australasian Psychiatry, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 446-449.
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Objective: Historically, people living with mental illness have had limited chance to participate in mental health services other than as patients. This has led to serious negative consequences for their health and wellbeing. Recent public policy has aimed at redressing this situation. This paper sets out to investigate the ‘state of play’ regarding consumer participation in mental health services.
Conclusions: Consumer participation is not a common topic in the recent literature, despite the significant public policy push to promote it. Although the vision of public policy is for consumers to be at the centre of decision making, the changes are understandably slow in coming. The implications for the practice of psychiatry, and therefore mental health services, of the demands for meaningful participation are profound. They challenge some of the social covenants under which mental health services have historically been delivered. Traditionally, people living with a mental illness have not had their rights respected. In recent times, the College has developed policies that aim to ensure that the rights of people living with a mental disorder are respected. These policies also acknowledge that effective health care requires collaboration with consumers.