Building collaborative cultures of care

within NSW mental health services

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What are collaborative cultures?

Strengthening people’s engagement in mental health services requires a shift from consumer engagement to true participation and active collaboration in care, by embracing the philosophy of ‘working with’ rather than ‘doing to’ people.5

The term collaborative cultures is used to describe shifts in relationships, changes to roles and responsibilities, and challenges to assumptions about power and care delivery in mental health services. Active collaboration includes shared decision-making where consumers meaningfully participate in collaborative care.

Collaborative cultures require efforts across the areas of leadership, workforce, systems, environments and accountability. This means involving people in decisions about individual healthcare, including assessment and care planning and transitions as well as involvement in decisions about the planning, provision and evaluation of healthcare services.

Language used in this document

Language is powerful; it creates meaning, defines relationships and is an expression of culture. In the past, language was used to describe people with lived experience of mental health issues and has characteristically been negative, disempowering and stigmatising.

Our terminology is based on from the Lived Experience Framework, in recognition of the co-designed process undertaken for its development, and the use of respectful and inclusive language.3

The following terms are used wherever possible:

  • People with lived experience of mental health issues – people who have experienced a mental health issue, or who currently have a lived experience of mental health issues and are on their recovery journey.
  • Family, kinship groups and carers with lived experience – people with lived experience of caring, supporting and being part of family, kinship group or friends of people with lived experience of mental illness.

‘Consumer’ and ‘patient’ may be used interchangeably when referring to government policy, reports, and literature resources. Collectively, these terms refer to people who have experienced or who currently have a lived experience of a mental health condition.