Authors: Ralph Brew & Paul Nestor, SA
Event: 2004 TheMHS Conference
Subject: SEXUAL HEALTH,
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: A consumer-focused booklet on Sexuality, Mental Illness and Medications, entitled “My Sexual Health Matters – information for people with a mental illness”, has been produced by SHine SA and the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia. The booklet is the result of a collaboration between consumers, advocates, mental health workers and a sexual health worker who had independently been concerned about the lack of information for mental health consumers about sexuality, sexual functioning and relationships, that reflected consumers’ experiences.
Available literature was examined and found to be largely medical in focus. Two consumer focus groups were conducted in metropolitan Adelaide to provide qualitative data about the experiences of mental health consumers. This research confirmed that people with a mental illness commonly experience complex impacts on this most basic of human functions, that are frustrating, isolating and demoralising. This experience can impact negatively on recovery, including compliance with medications. The booklet provides some basic strategies for consumers to assertively raise their needs with health workers and doctors with the expectation that they will be taken seriously. Detailed information about medications and the potential effects were deliberately avoided in the booklet.