The concept of consumer and carer engagement plays a vital role in the treatment, care and recovery of people with a mental illness.
Consumers and carers who are actively encouraged to make decisions about treatment and care are more likely to value treatment programs and to achieve better recovery outcomes.
Consumer and carer engagement also complements service development and results in mental health services that are more accessible and appropriate to consumers.
Participating in treatment
Consumers and legislation
People using mental health services (‘consumers’) are at the centre of their treatment and care under the Mental Health Act 2014 (the Act). The Act provides a series of legal mechanisms that promote the choices and engagement of all people with a mental illness, and encourages strong relationships between health practitioners, consumers, their families and carers.
Supported decision making
The Act promotes a supported decision-making model that encourages strong communication between health practitioners, consumers, their families and carers.
The Act supports people with a mental illness to make and participate in treatment decisions and to have their views and preferences considered and respected.
As a mental health professional, you are obliged under the Act to recognise that people with a mental illness have a say. This entails engaging and facilitating:
- consumers in making decisions about their treatment and care
- the role of carers in the assessment, treatment and care of people with a mental illness
- the role of parents in the assessment, treatment and care of children.
Engaging carers and parents also includes consideration of the services and supports that will assist them in their role as carers.
Nominated person and advance statements
In the course of providing ongoing treatment, you will be required to encourage consumers to make decisions concerning a nominated person and/or an advance statement.
- A nominated person represents the interests of a person with a mental illness and has the right to information about that person’s assessment, treatment and care.
- An advance statement outlines the wishes of a person with a mental illness should they be placed under a compulsory treatment order.
These decisions are enacted only when a person with a mental illness is subject to a compulsory treatment order. They ensure that consumers participate in decisions about their treatment, even when they are incapable of doing so.
Participating in policy and service development
Consumer and Carer Partnership Dialogues
Victorian clinical and non-clinical mental health services are invited to nominate all consumer and carer workforce members to engage directly with government to influence policy and practice. The department has established the Consumer and Carer Partnership Dialogues to facilitate collaboration across government, the consumer and carer workforces and their peaks, the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council and Tandem Inc. These regular dialogues offer consumers and carers an ongoing opportunity to inform the implementation of mental health initiatives to improve outcomes for mental health consumers and their families or carers.