The Mental Health and Supported Decision Making Project

The Mental Health and Supported Decision Making Project provides easily accessible information, support and resourcing via two key online information resources, one aimed at consumers and one aimed at carers.

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

The resources can also be used to inform mental health practitioners, policymakers and the wider Australian community about the experiences of people with complex mental illness, their families and carers.

Two online resources

Lived Experience Perspectives 

Carers’ Experiences 

Both resources feature films and audio-recordings on wide range of topics, such as: 

  • lived experiences of diagnosis, medication, hospitalisation  
  • experiences with health practitioners, discrimination, personal recovery 
  • views about how people could best be supported by health practitioners 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 oneself, 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 are published on the Healthtalk Australia website 

The resources present the lived experiences of a diverse group of people with complex 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 (now based at RMIT University) and University of Melbourne jointly conducted an interdisciplinary research project 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 complex 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, Mind Australia, Neami National, Tandem Carers, Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council, and Wellways (formerly Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria).