Nothing without vision! The views of consumers and mental health nurses about consumer involvement in mental health nursing education
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The active involvement of consumers in the education of nurses and other health professionals has been acknowledged as essential if Australian mental health policy goals to enhance consumer participation in all aspects of mental health services are to be realised. However, consumer participation has not become embedded in nurse education. A qualitative exploratory study was undertaken to gain perspectives from mental health nurse academics and consumer educators and academics. Telephone interviews were conducted with 34 nurse academics and 12 consumer academics or educators. Data were analysed thematically. Two important themes to emerge from this work were: vision for the future; and building capacity. Most participants highly valued the contribution consumers made to the education process and had a desire to see this strengthen. A stronger vision was evident from consumer participants who sought expansion into all health professions and a more defined process for communication and collegiality between consumer academics and educators. Closely tied to vision, was the issue of capacity building, and the need to provide supports to consumers as these are currently not readily available. Closer collaboration between nurses and consumers is necessary to ensure consumer participation is genuine and effective and promotes the development and articulation of their expertise and contribution to education.
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