Consumer consultants in mental health services: addressing the challenges

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Middleton, Peter, Stanton, Pauline and Renouf, Noel (2004) Consumer consultants in mental health services: addressing the challenges. Journal of Mental Health, 13 (5). pp. 507-518. ISSN 0963-8237


Background: Consumer consultants are people who have suffered from a mental illness requiring treatment in a public facility, and who are employed in public mental health services to put forward a consumer perspective. Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate the experience of consumer consultants in the Victorian public mental health program. Method: The paper traces the development of the consumer consultant program in Victoria, Australia and examines the literature on barriers to consumer participation in mental health services. The paper then outlines a qualitative study of the experiences of consumer consultants, focussing on their perceived areas of influence, areas of difficulty and their suggestions for improvement. Results: Organizational influences that affect the work of the consumer consultants are discussed and two ‘‘ideal types’’ of services outlined. Service red has institutional barriers that hinder the work of consumer consultants, whereas service green has institutional features that facilitate their work. Conclusions: Consumer consultants have made real gains in providing effective representation of the consumer perspective, resulting in service improvement, but the results have been uneven, and many significant barriers persist. Declaration of interest: The first and third author work in public mental health services. This study was carried out in part fulfilment of a Master of Social Work.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/09638230400004424
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Management and Information Systems
Keywords ResPubID18650, consumer consultants, consumer participation, mental health services, Australia
Citations in Scopus 42 - View on Scopus
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