Date of Award

2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Lynne Cohen

Abstract

The National Mental Health Strategy was launched in 1992 and endorsed Consumer-provider collaboration as an integral part or mental health service delivery in Australia. Feedback on services is generally elicited through evaluation of existing services. Rather than being than evaluative study or existing services this qualitative project explored the experience of being a mental health consumer within the framework of the consumer’s expectations and perceptions of service delivery in Western Australia. One male and seven females, aged between 22-55 participated in the study. Several themes and sub-themes under the broad headings of expectations. Experiences. Perceptions emerged. The themes highlighted consumers had no expectations of mental health services. However, management of illness and staff interactions produced a psychological response. For those who experienced negative interactions with staff fear was a dominant psychological response which changed over time from illness-related distress to fear of re-hospitalisation. All consumers reported an over-reliance on the use of medication and provided wider explanations for their episode of illness. A fourth category Reflective Comments, highlighted the inadequacies of the present services and the need for integrated biopsychosocial approaches. This small-scale study promotes a wider inquiry into the experience of being a mental health consumer in Western Australia. In particular, the differences in the experiences of private and public patients warrant further investigation.

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