Journeys of Rural Mental Health Consumers

‘Let me be the driver’ – I have removed the case’ – journeys of rural mental health consumers

Reflecting back to the Mantra on Salt Kingscliff conference – its beautiful location and the topics of presentation, discussions and debate – further reinforces and builds on my thoughts of consumers being the driver of their own care. A number of presentations at the conference followed this theme and as we move into 2017 and further role out of NDIS and mental health reform, choice and control by the consumer will become more evident so hopefully the system will keep up with policy.

lee martinez - rural mental health

Lee Martinez

What does it mean when we use the term “I am the driver”, “I” being the consumer. It’s really or should be as obvious as it sounds. I can / want to drive my own car / care! I already have my licence to live. Allow me to choose and be in control, direct the traffic. Give me options to choose from. Invite in who I believe I can travel with – that will be of benefit to my recovery.

For us in the North West of rural SA the focus and or attention on this concept came to the forefront following a series of World Cafés facilitated by Helen Glover at our 3rd. Sustainable Mental Health Sustainable Communities Lets Walk the Talk of Service Integration Conference held in Port Lincoln in June 2015 and a couple of research and evaluation studies that looked at mental health intermediate care and community rehabilitation completed by the Department of Rural Health, University of SA.

Some of the current and past literature identifies the positive outcomes when consumers are “drivers of their own care”, however there are significant glitches within the system that can be obstacles to enabling consumer driven care. For example; fragmentation of the system, consumers having to repeat their story several times to different service providers, the concept and use of language for example case management and or case manager raises questions of what is the case, who and what is in the case -can we get rid of the case?

Glover talks about the most important thing in a person’s recovery is the person himself or herself. A recovery space cannot be realised without the person – everything else is negotiable.

While the challenge about the need to move services to a recovery based orientation meets less resistance than in previous times, there are still many services and practitioners yet to fully embrace the critical differences of delivering services from a recovery orientation.

By Lee Martinez, Mental Health Academic for the University of SA Department of Rural Health.

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