Mental health service engagement with family and carers: what practices are fundamental?
Darryl Maybery
Irene Casey Jaffe
Rose Cuff
Zoe Duncan
Anne Grant
Melissa Kennelly
Torleif Ruud
Bjørg Eva Skogøy
Bente Weimand
Andrea Reupert
Academic article
BMC Health Services Research
Year published:
Background: Substantial and important benefits flow to all stakeholders, including the service user, when mental health services meaningfully engage with carers and family members. Government policies around the world clearly supports inclusiveness however health service engagement with family and carers remains sporadic, possibly because how best to engage is unclear. A synthesis of currently used surveys, relevant research and audit tools indicates seven core ways that families and carers might be engaged by health services. This study sought to confirm, from the perspective of family and carers, the importance of these seven health service engagement practices. Methods: In a mixed method online survey, 134 family members and carers were asked what they received and what they wanted from mental health services. Participants also quantified the importance of each of the seven core practices on a 0–100 point likert scale. Results: Almost 250 verbatim responses were deductively matched against the seven themes, with additional unaligned responses inductively categorised. The findings triangulate with multiple diverse literatures to confirm seven fundamental engagement practices that carers and family want from health services. Conceptually, the seven practices are represented by two broad overarching practice themes of (i) meeting the needs of the family member and (ii) addressing the needs of the service user. Conclusion: Policy, clinical practice, training and future research might encompass the seven core practices along with consideration of the intertwined relationship of family, carers and the service user suggested by the two broader concepts.