HSRI Researchers Publish on the Promise of Self-Direction - International Perspectives

Date: 08/2016

HSRI Research Associates Bevin Croft and Ben Cichocki are part of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded team examining self-direction in mental health.  Last year, the team brought together experts in self-direction and mental health from around the globe for a two-day, in-person ‘learning exchange’ as part of the 2015 International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership meetings. All told, 45 participants, representing seven countries, attended the meeting—sharing best practices, discussing challenges, and laying the groundwork for a learning community related to this growing practice. (If you’re not familiar with self-direction, check out the description below.) Participants included government officials, researchers, policy experts, and administrators; and many—approximately one-fifth—self-identified as having lived experience of the mental health system.

You can now read their description of the learning exchange; it’s available online ahead of print as “Open Forum: The Emergence of Mental Health Self-Direction – An International Learning Exchange” in the journal Psychiatric Services.

As Bevin states:

In addition to sharing a brief summary of studies to date, we provide some key considerations for self-direction—including the culture and systems change required to move toward a more holistic understanding of wellness and recovery, the training and support needed to ensure that people with lived experience are in leadership roles, and the need for both quantifiable outcomes and personal narratives to help stakeholders understand the value of self-direction.

It was heartening to hear stakeholders from diverse health and social service systems endorsing self-direction’s transformative potential. It was also interesting to learn that despite hailing from different system contexts with different stages of adoption and implementation, there were many shared barriers to progress—from thorny logistical issues to cultures that underestimate the decision-making capacity of people who use services. I hope we can find ways to continue the conversations that began last fall as our efforts continue to grow and evolve.

Self-Direction: Self-direction has emerged worldwide as a promising practice for people with serious mental health conditions and as a means toward creating more person-centered service systems. In self-direction, service users control an individual and customized budget, using it to purchase from a range of goods and services that can help them achieve personal recovery goals.

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