The Supported Decision Making Project

The Supported Decision Making Project is an online resource for consumers and carers, providing easily accessible information, support and resourcing via two key online information modules.

The modules present personal stories of living with severe mental health challenges and carers’ experiences. They are targeted to support people with severe mental illness and their families and carers to make informed decisions about their mental health assessment, treatment and recovery. 

The modules also provide mental health practitioners with an educational resource, and inform policymakers and the wider Australian community about the experiences of people with severe mental illness, their families and carers.

Two online modules

The Lived Experience Perspectives 

The Carers’ Experiences 

Both modules feature films and audio-recordings featuring a wide range of topics, such as: 

  • lived experiences of diagnosis, medication, hospitalisation  
  • experiences with health professionals, discrimination, personal recovery 
  • views about how they could best be supported by health professionals in making decisions about treatments and other aspects of their lives 
  • carers’ experiences of supporting the quality of life of the person being cared for  
  • impact of caring on their relationships with the person cared for and other family members, of social isolation, of caring for themselves, of personal growth 
  • views about how carers can better support practitioners – and be better supported by practitioners – to assist their loved ones to make decisions about their own treatment and other aspects of their lives.  

Resource development

Launched in June 2016, the online resources were published on the Healthtalk Australia website 

The modules present the lived experiences of a diverse group of people with severe mental illness, including those diagnosed with psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar, and their families and carers, and their perspectives on, and experiences of, supported decision making and personal recovery. 

The production of these internet resources is a key output of the Australian Research Council Linkage research project, titled 'Options for Supported Decision Making to Enhance the Recovery of People with Severe Mental Health Problems'. Researchers from Monash University and University of Melbourne jointly conducted an interdisciplinary research by investigating the rights, agency and self-determination of people in the mental health system. 

Researchers travelled around Victoria to talk to:

  • 29 people from a range of backgrounds who have received various psychiatric diagnoses including psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression
  • 29 individuals who care for family members diagnosed with severe mental illness.  

The research team was led by Professor Renata Kokanovic (RMIT University). It was supported through partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, and Mind Australia, Neami National, Tandem Carers, Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council, and Wellways (formerly Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria). 

More information 

For more information about the research and the findings, please visit the project website