Mental Health Services as a Partnership

by Dr John Hillery, December 2017


The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (CPI), formed in 2009, is the professional body for psychiatrists in the Republic of Ireland...

Pic 3It is the sole body recognised for training of doctors to become specialists in psychiatry and for providing career long competence for specialists in psychiatry. The Mission of the College is to promote excellence in the practice of psychiatry. The College fulfils its Mission through the education and training of psychiatrists; the provision of continuous lifelong learning for them; advocacy for resources to support best practice in the delivery of mental health services; promoting best practice in education, training and research in psychiatry; and public education on issues related to psychiatric illness, psychiatric services and mental health promotion. Among the objectives of the College in fulfilling its mission is the promotion of recovery and collaboration in Mental Healthcare. In doing this, the College works with service users, carers and their organisations.

Such collaborative work has become increasingly accepted in Healthcare. The role of the expert patient is accepted and fostered in such areas as Diabetes care and Neurology. It has proven benefits for practice and research across the health services internationally. The commitment of the College to the partnership dynamic was manifested from an early stage of its existence in the establishment of the REFOCUS* Committee. Membership of this Committee was originally made up of service users and carers but has evolved into a fuller partnership, trialogue type group with equal numbers of Service Users, Carers and Psychiatrists.

Slowly but surely the philosophies and ideas of this group are permeating the College and all its activities with representation of service users and carers in the development of training; the running of post graduate examinations and equal involvement with the other committees of the College in producing and critically appraising College Policies and Position Papers. Council is the governing body of the College and the REFOCUS is represented on the Council. As a psychiatrist working in the public service, I welcomed the plans of the HSE to ensure carer and patient involvement in the planning and delivery of mental health services when they were originally announced. The pace of these developments seemed frustratingly slow. It is heartening to see their manifestation at all levels in the public mental health services now including the establishment of the Mental Health Engagement Office to develop and steer these models.

I look forward to the benefits for patients, carers and for those of us who continue to work in the public mental health services that a comprehensive functioning partnership model will bring.

* Recovery Experience Forum of Carers and Users of the Services


(John Hillery is the current President of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and a practising psychiatrist in the area of mental health and an intellectual disability)

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