When every voice matters: Why co-production achieves great results – even more so in mental health services

A co-produced research on co-production in mental health services.

The way mental health services are delivered has greatly evolved over the past few decades, and co-production appears to be a promising approach with many benefits over traditional services. Co-production in health services is centred around the formation of equal and reciprocal relationships between professionals, users, and their families; this empowers everyone involved to push for changes and improvements that they would like to see, through periodic assembly meetings.

To date, not many studies have been conducted on the co-production of mental health services, and the small number of existing studies are largely qualitative. Yet, their results show that such a public mental health model is likely to be a positive social investment that leads to better overall societal outcomes in terms of social-connectedness, inclusion, reduction in stigma, well-being, and quality of life. This has been attributed to the “protective” nature of the system, where people can receive sufficient help before they reach a crisis point.

But because more evidence for the effectiveness of co-production is still needed and to confirm these aforementioned outcomes, we conducted a comparative research, both qualitative (via survey questionnaires) and quantitative (via statistical modelling), between a co-produced centre in Italy, called the Marco Cavallo Center (MCC), and three other traditional centres.

We found that users of the MCC reported a 63% lower hospitalization rate than those of traditional services and also lowered their use of psychiatric medications. Through our qualitative study involving users, family members, and professionals alike, we determined the main differences they perceived between traditional and co-produced services.

According to them, co-production was focused on parity, respectful relationships, people’s strengths, and social inclusion, and brought along with it a feeling of belongingness that is characteristic of care within the family setup. It also gave users and families hope by being centre d around the idea of recovery. Our study highlights the benefits, particularly the preventive aspects, of co-production, with the hope that this approach eventually becomes the norm rather than being the exception.

Comparison of a co-produced mental health service to traditional services:
A co-produced mixed-methods cross-sectional study

Authors: Rafaella Pocobello, Tarek el Sehity, Luca Negrogno, Carlo Minervini, Maddalena Guida, and Cosimo Venerito
First published: 09 December, 2019 / Open Access
Full article: https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12681

SFU Contact: 
Univ.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Tarek el Sehity
Faculty of Psychology
Sigmund Freud University
Mail: Tarek.el-Sehity@sfu.ac.at
Web: https://psychologie.sfu.ac.at/en/