Australian Mental Health Consumers' Experiences of Service Engagement and Disengagement: A Descriptive Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Oct 5;18(19):10464. doi: 10.3390/ijerph181910464.


Mental health issues are a severe global concern with significant personal, social, and economic consequences and costs. This paper reports results of an online survey disseminated across the Australian community investigating why people with mental health issues choose particular mental health services over others, what causes them to disengage from services, and what factors and qualities of services are important to consumers to support their continued engagement or re-engagement with mental health services. The importance of GPs was evident, given their key role in providing mental healthcare, especially to those referred to as "the missing middle"-consumers with mental health issues who fall through the gaps in care in other parts of the healthcare system. The study found that many respondents chose to engage with mental healthcare providers primarily due to accessibility and affordability, but also because of the relational qualities that they displayed as part of delivering care. These qualities fostered consumers' sense of trust, feeling listened to, and not being stigmatized as part of help seeking and having their mental health needs met. Implications for education and practice are offered.

Keywords: consumers; disengagement; engagement; mental health; mental health services; primary care; re-engagement.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Health Facilities
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Mental Health*