Authors: Scholz B, Gordon S, Happell B
Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2017 Feb;26(1):20-31
Contemporary mental health policies call for greater involvement of mental health service consumers in all aspects and at all levels of service planning, delivery, and evaluation. The extent to which consumers are part of the decision-making function of mental health organizations varies. This systematic review synthesizes empirical and review studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals relating to consumers in leadership roles within mental health organizations. The Cochrane Library, Medline, and PsycINFO were searched for articles specifically analysing and discussing consumers' mental health service leadership. Each article was critically appraised against the inclusion criteria, with 36 articles included in the final review. The findings of the review highlight current understandings of organizational resources and structures in consumer-led organizations, determinants of leadership involvement, and how consumer leadership interacts with traditional mental health service provision. It appears that organizations might still be negotiating the balance between consumer leadership and traditional structures and systems. The majority of included studies represent research about consumer-run organizations, with consumer leadership in mainstream mental health organizations being less represented in the literature. Advocates of consumer leadership should focus more on emphasizing how such leadership itself can be a valuable resource for organizations and how this can be better articulated. This review highlights the current gaps in understandings of consumer leadership in mental health, including a need for more research exploring the benefits of consumer leadership for other consumers of services.