Telephone survey of service-user experiences of a telephone-based mental health triage service

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Abstract

The participation of service users in all aspects of mental health service delivery including policy development, service planning and evaluation is increasingly an expectation of contemporary mental health care. Although there are a growing number of publications reporting service-user perspectives in the evaluation of mental health services, little attention has been paid to the views of service users about mental health triage services. The purpose of the study reported here was to examine service-users' (consumers and informal carers) experiences of a telephone-based mental health triage service. Using a framework developed from the World Health Organisation's elements of responsiveness, we conducted structured telephone interviews with service users who had contacted a telephone-based mental health triage service in regional Victoria, Australia. The main findings of the study were that consumers experienced more difficulty than carers in accessing the service and that, although most participants were satisfied, only a minority reported being involved in decision-making. Further work is needed to improve accessibility of mental health triage services and to investigate barriers to consumer self-referral. Professional development and practice support systems should be established to support mental health triage nurses in the development of collaborative, consumer-focused care.

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