Improving Consumer Representation In Adult Mental Health Services: Consumer Consultants Share Their Experiences.

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Authors: Peter Middleton, Noel Renouf, VIC

Year: 2002

Event: 2002 TheMHS Conference

Subject: QUALITATIVE STUDY, Consumer Role and Advocacy, book of proceedings

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

Abstract: This is a qualitative study of ten consumer consultants working in Area Mental Health Services in Victoria, exploring their perspectives on their areas of influence, areas of difficulty, and possible solutions to these difficulties. Consumer consultants felt that they had influence in Area Mental Health Services. Factors limiting their influence were related to issues of stigma, tokenism, the mental health system, and the tendency within organisations to resist change. To address these difficulties consumer consultants suggest they will require increased resources from the Department of Human Services, improved training and supervision, more staff training, and supportive service cultures. This research identifies two sets of service characteristics: Service Green, which is supportive of consumer participation; and Service Red, which is obstructive. Adopting the characteristics of Service Green in Area Mental Health Services would enhance the influence of consumer consultants.

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