Exploring Ways of Involving Service Users

Essay by chytreUniversity, Bachelor'sB, March 2009

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INTRODUCTIONThis essay will identify and explore ways in which service users are involved in mental health services, a brief history will precede a more detailed focus on three separate areas of service user involvement. The essay will conclude with a short reflective account highlighting the authors newly acquired knowledge and its relevance to future practice.

Recognition of the importance of service user involvement in mental health care is possibly at a higher level now than it ever has been, the National Service Framework (NSF) for Mental Health (Department of Health 1999) emphasised the importance of user consultation and the significance of user involvement itself is highlighted by its increasing presence in numerous Department of Health (DoH) policies over recent years. These policies range from the NHS Plan (Department of Health 2000) and Involving Patients and the Public (Department of Health 2001a) to the recent consultation document (Department of Health 2006a) proposing a review of the Care Programme Approach (CPA) however this importance has not always been recognised.

The history of service user movement groups is well documented (Everett 1994, Campbell 1996, Wallcraft J, Bryant M 2003) and awareness of this literature enables an understanding to develop of the gigantic steps that have been made in the area of user involvement. The past quarter of a century has witnessed a dramatic change in the way that those using mental health services are perceived, represented and valued, not least as contributors towards their own care as opposed to purely receivers of it. The role of service users in the 2007 mental health service is far removed from the role they played just decades previously (Campbell 2005) and the increasingly used term "experts by experience" highlights the value placed on service user contribution in all aspects of their care planning. This patient expertise...