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J Ment Health. 2013 Apr;22(2):174-82. doi: 10.3109/09638237.2012.734658. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

Implementing personalisation for people with mental health problems: a comparative case study of four local authorities in England.

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  • 1Research Department, Rethink Mental Illness, London, UK.



Enhancing choice and control for people using services is a mental health and social-care service priority in England. Personalisation is a new policy and practice for delivery of social-care services where eligible adults are allocated a personal budget to spend to meet their agreed support needs.


To describe approaches to introducing personal budgets to people with severe and enduring mental health needs, and to identify facilitators or barriers encountered.


Within four English local authority (LA) areas, purposively selected to provide maximum variation, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 58 participants from LAs, NHS trusts and third-sector organisations. An Interpretive Framework analysis considered within- and across-site insights.


Issues arising from the implementation of personalisation for people with mental health needs are presented under two general themes: "responsibility and power" and "vision and leadership". Key challenges identified were complexities of working across NHS and LAs, the importance of effective leadership and engagement with service user representatives.


Implementing personal budgets in mental health requires effective engagement of health and social-care systems. Change processes need strong leadership, clear vision and personal commitment, with ownership by all key stakeholders, including front-line practitioners.

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