The Effectiveness of Services Led or Run by Consumers in Mental Health - Sax Institute - NSW Mental Health Commission
2 August 2016

Mental health services controlled and run by people with lived experience of mental illness (‘consumers’) are effective in supporting recovery, according to a report released today by the Mental Health Commission of NSW.

The report, titled The effectiveness of services led or run by consumers in mental health: Rapid review of evidence for recovery-orientated outcomes, looked at evidence collected from countries around the world.

While people with lived experience of mental illness have long supported each other, formal consumer-operated services have only begun to emerge in recent decades and are still rare. The strongest evidence in the report for their effectiveness came from three large studies in the United States, which found consumer-operated services had positive impacts on people’s levels of hope and empowerment, social inclusion, housing, education and employment, and program and treatment satisfaction. Researchers also found a number of studies have demonstrated that consumer-run services are cost effective.

NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley said the findings provide further support for priorities and actions identified in Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024, which was adopted by the NSW Government in December 2014.

“There is a significant role for services which are led and run by people with lived experience of mental illness. This review reflects the need for the mental health sector to embrace consumer leadership and commit to growth in this area,” Mr Feneley said.

“This model of service delivery is much more than a pleasant, inclusive idea – it’s vital to making the sector relevant and accessible, and improving people’s mental health outcomes.

“Both private and public mental health service providers in NSW must work to increase not only the number of peer workers they employ, but the involvement of people with lived experience at the very top of their organisation.”

A total of 33 peer reviewed papers and associated literature were reviewed in the report, which was conducted through the Sax Institute for the Commission.

The CEO of the Mental Health Coordinating Council, Jenna Bateman, said consumer-led services typically fostered consumer choice and control, participation and self-determination, and enabled individuals to remain well in the community in unique and innovative ways.

“Consumer operated services and programs represent a real gap in NSW’s suite of community based services for people with mental health and psychosocial issues. The UK and the USA value and support these services to a much greater degree than here in Australia. They should be supported through state and Commonwealth funding streams.”

The Mental Health Commission of NSW recently launched the Peer Work Hub, an online resource for employers that provides evidence and advice for organisations on how and why they should grow a mental health peer workforce, which is central to successful consumer led and run services.




Media enquiries:

Erin O’Loughlin, Mental Health Commission of NSW
E: | P: 02 9859 5237 | M: 0477 763 909

About the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales
The Mental Health Commission of NSW was established under the Mental Health Commission Act 2012 and came into operation on 1 July 2012. The Commission is an independent statutory authority established with the purpose of monitoring, reviewing and improving the mental health system and the mental health and wellbeing of the people of NSW. In all its work the Commission aims to reflect the experience of people who live with mental illness, their families and carers.

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Last updated: 24 June 2017