Who Should be Responsible for Supporting Individuals with Mental Health Problems? A Qualitative Descriptive Study Exploring the Perceptions of Multiple Stakeholders

Poster C48, Saturday, October 22, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Le Baron

Megan A. Pope1,2, Gerald Jordan1,2, Shruthi Venkataraman2, Heleen Loohuis2, Ashok K. Malla1,2, Srividya N. Iyer1,2; 1McGill University, 2Douglas Mental Health University Institute

Background & objectives: Individuals with mental health problems, particularly those with serious mental illnesses like first-episode psychosis (FEP), have many inadequately met support needs. Relevant stakeholders’ perceptions of who should be responsible for meeting these needs remain unexplored; yet, varying perceptions could be a cause of unmet support needs within this group. Our objective was to explore the perceptions of youth with FEP, their families, treatment providers, and mental health policy/decision-makers as to who should be responsible for supporting individuals with mental health problems and to discover what responsibilities they ascribe to these parties. Methods: Using a qualitative descriptive design, focus groups were conducted with patients, families, and treatment providers from an early psychosis intervention program. Individual interviews were conducted with mental health policy/decision-makers. Transcripts were analyzed thematically. Results: Participants assigned a wide range of responsibilities to individuals with mental health problems; stakeholders in the immediate and extended social networks of these individuals; macro-level stakeholders with influence; and society as a whole. Themes relating to perceived failings of the healthcare system, and to the structure and nature of roles and responsibilities, were also identified. Discussion: Participants largely agreed on the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholder groups, suggesting that healthcare system failings, rather than varying perceptions, may be the cause of unmet support needs. Our findings also suggest that various stakeholder groups with different levels of influence can and should collectively assume certain responsibilities. The implications of this study for shaping mental health policy, services, and future research are discussed.

Topic Area: Service System Development and Reform

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