International Journal of Mental Health Systems
Participation in mental healthcare: a qualitative meta-synthesis
International Journal of Mental Health Systems201711:67
© The Author(s) 2017
Published: 7 November 2017
Facilitation of service user participation in the co-production of mental healthcare planning and service delivery is an integral component of contemporary mental health policy and clinical guidelines. However, many service users continue to experience exclusion from the planning of their care. This review synthesizes qualitative research about participation in mental healthcare and articulates essential processes that enable service user participation in mental health care.
Electronic databases were systematically searched. Studies were included if they were peer reviewed qualitative studies, published between 2000 and 2015, examining participation in mental health care. The Critical Appraisal Skills Program checklist was used to assess the quality of each included study. Constant comparison was used to identify similar constructs across several studies, which were then abstracted into thematic constructs.
The synthesis resulted in the identification of six principal themes, which articulate key processes that facilitate service user participation in mental healthcare. These themes included: exercising influence; tokenism; sharing knowledge; lacking capacity; respect; and empathy.
This meta-synthesis demonstrates that service user participation in mental healthcare remains a policy aspiration, which generally has not been translated into clinical practice. The continued lack of impact on policy on the delivery of mental healthcare suggests that change may have to be community driven. Systemic service user advocacy groups could contribute critically to promoting authentic service user participation in the co-production of mental health services.