Mental Health Services Still Not Providing Full Range Of Treatments

As part of the National Schizophrenia Awareness Week, Senator Mary O’Rourke launched Schizophrenia Ireland’s new research document, “Talking about Choice: Developing the dialogue for individual recovery and partnership”. ‘Talking about Choice’ is Schizophrenia Ireland’s second survey of service users’ experience. This piece of research, conducted on behalf of Schizophrenia Ireland by University College Dublin’s Centre for Disability Studies, builds on previous research.

‘Talking about Choice’ enquires about the type of mental health services received by individuals and the quality of those services. The research focuses on: which professionals were involved in delivering services to service users; the nature of the relationship between the professionals involved and service users; and the quality of information exchanged between service users and professionals.

The research examines the degree of compliance with medication regimes and the availability and range of alternative treatments, as well as the personal and social resources of the service user, and how these affect the quality of interventions.

Some of the research findings include:
– 52% of service users said they had no choice in their mental health treatment generally.
– 53% reported that they were given no choice in relation to medication.
– 44% reported that they had tried to stop their medication or at least reduce it at some point in their treatment, however, only 18% say that they were offered help in doing so.
– 48% say alternative medications are never discussed with them.
– Around 28% say that side effects have a high impact on their day-to-day life.
– Nearly 64% of those who came off their medication reported an overall negative outcome.
– Around 80% of those offered the opportunity to talk (Group and Peer Support) take it up.

John Saunders, Director of Schizophrenia Ireland commented: “The findings of ‘Talking about Choice’ can be compared to Schizophrenia Ireland’s 2002 research findings of ‘A Question of Choice – Ireland’. It is clear from the analysis of both results that many of the issues for service users apparent in 2002, still exist in 2006.

“This is particularly true in relation to the poor quality of information offered between service provider and service user, the issue of medication compliance and the scarcity of treatments other than medication to assist recovery.”

Mr Saunders continued: “On the positive side, however, the survey findings suggest that mental health service users are now in a different climate. The research is published in the same year as the new Government policy ‘A Vision for Change’, which highlights the need for significant alterations including the need to focus on recovery, the need to have a more participative relationship between mental healthcare service providers and service users and the need to have access to additional professional support.

“These are significant issues, which were highlighted in the outcomes of our research. Schizophrenia Ireland hopes that the publication of ‘Talking about Choice’ will add to the debate about the need to provide an improved range of services for people experiencing mental health difficulties.

“Such services should be focused on the service user as the central character, and should be orientated towards assisting the individual to achieve the maximum degree of recovery possible.”

Schizophrenia Ireland is the national organisation dedicated to upholding the rights and addressing the needs of those affected by schizophrenia and related illnesses, and their caring relatives.

The organisation offers a wide range of services including support groups, information helpline, social and vocational rehabilitation initiatives, suicide prevention programmes and counselling.