Introduction Mental healthcare is a serious concern and crucial part of general healthcare due to two reasons. First, the latest statistics indicate that neuro-psychiatric conditions are not only highly prevalent but rank among serious diseases in projected morbidity and mortality by the year 2015 (Mathers & Loncar 2005, pp…
This is known as consumer participation and simply refers to participation of consumers (mental illness patients) in the formal or informal development of plans, models of delivery, implementation and appraisal of the entire realm of activities that form mental health care. What really are the benefits and limitations of consumer participation in provision of mental health care? This study seeks to provide the answers to this question and the approach undertaken will be a review of literature focusing on the perspectives of researchers, policy makers, nursing text and relevant consumer accounts. This will be followed by a summary of the findings which will inform the conclusion of the essay. Benefits and Disadvantages of Consumer participation in Mental Healthcare The best way to study this is to establish the perspectives of the various stakeholders in mental healthcare i.e. consumers, carers, researchers, policy makers and health professionals. Timimi (2011, p. 4) weighs the importance of the psychotherapeutic model adopted by healthcare professionals in terms of positive outcomes and indicates that the outcome is not significantly related to the psychotherapeutic technique selected instead stating that a strong therapeutic alliance with the patient is of primary importance. This is evidence-based as opposed to traditional expertise that places primary importance on mental healthcare under the paradigms of making a diagnosis and implementing treatment. Of particular note is that both biomedical and psychological aspects (for instance use of antidepressants and cognitive behaviour therapy respectively) have been studied and found to bear similar improvements on patients and no significant differences in terms of outcomes regardless of the technique used. One such study involved groups of depression patients treated with CBT, Interpersonal Therapy, antidepressants and placebos and the results indicated significant improvements in all the cases and no significant differences between the first three versus the placebo group. The underlining factor evidenced by this study was the quality of the relationship between the therapist and the patient as perceived by the patient in the early phases of treatment. The conclusions from such studies and meta-analyses is that the treatment is important in placing the consumer in a given psychological state that is important for their healing especially as evidenced by the fact that such treatments are efficacious across several conditions regardless of diagnosis. The important cross-cutting factor during treatment instead lies in the therapeutic alliance between the patient and the therapist. Hence a good relationship with the prescribing doctor is far more important for a positive response to the treatment implemented than just merely offering the drug (Timimi 2011, p. 5). This study importantly points us to the role of the patient in treatment and thus participation. Griffith and Jenkins (2004, pp. 41-50) conducted a study to find out the perceived advantages and disadvantages of consumer participation in mental healthcare research and inferred a number of pros and cons based on the views of the various stakeholders. The general view across all groups was an agreement that consumer participation led to improved health outcomes and improved services to the patients. Involving consumers was found to result in consumer empowerment through acknowledgement of their expertise, ...
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