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Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2007 Jun;16(3):214-22.

Consumer advocate and clinician perceptions of consumer participation in two rural mental health services.

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1
School of Nursing and Midwifery, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia. jabresu@bigpond.com

Abstract

Consumer participation has been heralded as the integration of consumer perspectives into standard mental health care. Using a qualitative descriptive method, this study had two broad aims. First, the study aimed to explore the perceptions of consumer advocates and clinicians regarding consumer participation in two new regional mental health services. Second, the study aimed to explore how broad policy initiatives, related to consumer participation, are enacted at a service delivery level. In-depth interviews were conducted with 10 participants, recruited from the steering committees of both services. Although all participants uniformly commended consumer participation as a reality in mental health services, its breadth and depth of influence was not enacted. A systemic change to the way consumer participation is funded and incorporated into mental health services is required. The incorporation of consumers as stakeholders within mental health services requires commitment to the idea, the establishment of clear purposes and roles, and commensurate funding to enable consumers to be stakeholders with similar resources to other stakeholder groups.

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