Advances in Mental Health, Vol 10, No 2 (2011)

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Consumer and carer consultants in mental health: the formation of their role identity

Patricia Barkway, Krista Mosel, Alan Simpson, Candice Oster, Eimear Muir-Cochrane

Abstract


Following the introduction of the first National Mental Health Plan in 1992 consumer participation was and continues to be identified as a key component of the reform of Australia’s mental health services. One strategy to achieve participation has been the creation of the role of consumer and carer consultants (CCCs) who have been employed in public mental health services since the early 1990s.

 

Despite over two decades of service by CCCs there seems to be little consensus between the CCCs and mental health professionals regarding the roles and function of these positions. This qualitative study sought to explore the question of ‘what is the role of consultants?’ from the perspective of CCCs, focusing in particular on the formation of consumer and carer consultants’ role identity. Four themes were identified, namely: Role Motivation; Role Preparation; Role Practice/Focus; and Role Ambiguity/Conflict. This paper explores these themes and their implications, and finally makes recommendations regarding clinical practice.






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