Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

How do consumer leaders co-create value in mental health organisations?

Brett Scholz A B , Julia Bocking A and Brenda Happell A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A SYNERGY Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre, University of Canberra and ACT Health, The Canberra Hospital, Garran, ACT 2605, Australia. Email: julia.bocking@canberra.edu.au; brenda.happell@canberra.edu.au

B Corresponding author. Email: brett.scholz@canberra.edu.au

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH16105
Submitted: 21 April 2016  Accepted: 30 July 2016   Published online: 23 September 2016

Abstract

Objectives Contemporary mental health policies call for consumers to be involved in decision-making processes within mental health organisations. Some organisations have embraced leadership roles for consumers, but research suggests consumers remain disempowered within mental health services. Drawing on a service-dominant logic, which emphasises the co-creation of value of services, the present study provides an overview of consumer leadership within mental health organisations in the Australian Capital Territory.

Methods Mental health organisations subscribing to the local peak body mailing list were invited to complete a survey about consumer leadership. Survey data were summarised using descriptive statistics and interpreted through the lens of service-dominant logic.

Results Ways in which organisations may create opportunities for consumers to co-create value within their mental health services included soliciting feedback, involving consumer leaders in service design, having consumer leaders involved in hiring decisions and employing consumer leaders as staff or on boards. Strategies that organisations used to develop consumer leaders included induction, workshops and training in a variety of organisational processes and skills.

Conclusions The findings of the present study extend the application of a service-dominant logic framework to consumer leadership within mental health organisations through consideration of the diverse opportunities that organisations can provide for consumer co-creation of service offerings.

What is known about the topic? Policy calls for consumer involvement in all levels of mental health service planning, implementation and delivery. The extent to which service organisations have included consumer leaders varies, but research suggests that this inclusion can be tokenistic or that organisations choose to work with consumers who are less likely to challenge the status quo. Service literature has explored the way consumers can co-create value of their own health care, but is yet to explore consumers’ co-creation of value at a systemic level.

What does the paper add? This paper outlines ways in which mental health organisations report involving consumers in leadership positions, including having consumers on boards, having consumers on recruitment panels and providing leadership training for consumers. These initiatives are considered in terms of the potential value co-created within mental health services by consumers in leadership, suggesting that consumer leaders are a resource to mental health organisations in terms of the value brought to service offerings.

What are the implications for practitioners? Research suggests that medical professionals have been resistant to increased consumer leadership within mental health services. The findings of the present study emphasise the value that can be brought to service organisations by consumer leaders, suggesting that mental health practitioners may reconsider their approach and attitudes towards consumer leadership in the sector.

Additional keywords: consumer participation, partnership.


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