Partnership Working Between Service Users and Mental Health Workers The growing concern on the mental health trends in United Kingdom has triggered numerous changes in the UK mental health care sector including a significant focus on promoting working partnership between users and the service providers…
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The term users, not only applies to the people with mental disorders but also survivors, family members as well as providers of related services. According to Tait and Lester (2005), the conceptualization of users as providers, as reflected in the current trend of user-led services in UK provides a great opportunity for advancing the partnership working between service providers and the mental service users. The user- led services involve mental services carried out and managed by users through voluntary arrangements in conjunction with health care professionals. The concept of users-led services and the shift from institutionalized mental health care to the community-based care provide another great opportunity for partnership between the practitioners and the users. However, the partnership requires significant training of volunteers, promotion of personal support and user-led advocacy (Sherpherd, Boardman & Slade 2008). The practitioner-patient approach is based on the assumption that users have practical experience with the problems faced by people with mental disorders and therefore can provide the much needed understanding in delivering such services. The Need for a Shift in Attitudes among Practitioners and a Move away from the 'Us and Them' Approach The need for a shift in attitude among practitioners and moving from the ‘us and them’ approach can be attributed to the role of the user and practitioner partnership in the recovery of people with mental disorders. The relationship between the patients and clinicians requires a move from the expert/patient to a partnership in order to facilitate the process of recovery (Tait & Lester 2007). The concept of isolating people with mental disorders has been found to impart limited recovery achievements, with the social inclusion approach emerging as the most effective approach in caring for people with mental disorders. The move from the ‘us and them’ approach requires the recognition of family members and other supporters crucial in the recovery of a patient as partners in the process of delivering mental health services. Effectiveness of the treatment and recovery process requires a collaborative effort between the practitioners and service users. The recovery approve has been proposed as one of the effective approaches in delivering mental health care services in different countries including United States, New Zealand, Australia and UK (Shepherd, Boardman & Slade 2008). This approach is founded on the basis of partnership between the service providers and service users in enhancing effectiveness of the health care services. The approach provides service users to participate actively in the delivery of the services rather emphasizing on expert/patient boundaries. The process of delivering effective health care interventions requires that health care practitioners shift their attitude from the expertise or authority status to personal coaches ready to offer their skills and learn from the patients or service users as well (Sherpherd, Boardman & Slade 2008). Practitioner-patient partnership requires significant trust, openness, honesty and support from both parties. Barriers to the Working Partnership and ways of overcoming them One of the greatest challenges in fostering working partnership between practitioners and mental health patients revolves around the lack of user empowerment. Families, patients
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