Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

Principles of mental health care

The mental health user and survivor movement has grown substantially over the last decade. There are now hundreds of groups across the UK. In particular they have been able to influence the implementation of the NSF for Mental Health. Demands for user-focused care have not just come from user organizations. Bracken and Thomas (2001), two psychiatrists, have put forward a cogent argument for a postmodern form of post-psychiatry, which embraces users and survivors as taking the centre stage.

It is the NSF that sets out the principles for contemporary mental health care in England. There is little dispute about these principles although the extent that they have been put into practice is variable. For example Users’ Voices found that a majority of users did not receive all the information they required and did not know if they had a care plan or a key worker in line with the Care Programme Approach (CPA). It is now clear that people who use public services, including mental health services, must be enabled to become ‘capable users’. A capable user is well informed about mental health and mental health services, is at the centre of their care, working in partnership with staff, and can exercise choice.

People with mental health problems can expect that services will:

involve service users and their carers in planning and delivering care;

deliver high quality treatment and care which is known to be effective and acceptable;

be well suited to those who use them and non-discriminatory;

be accessible so that help can be obtained when and where it is needed;

promote their safety and that of carers, staff and the wider public;

offer choices which promote independence;

be well coordinated between staff and agencies;

deliver continuity of care for as long as this is needed;

empower and support staff;

be properly accountable to the public, service users and carers.

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