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Professional and service-user perceptions of self-help in primary care mental health services

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2009
<mark>Journal</mark>Health and Social Care in the Community
Issue number2
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)209-215
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


Self-help is becoming an increasingly accessible option for addressing mental health problems. Despite this, self-help is subject to a variety of interpretations, little is known about how professionals and service-users conceptualise self-help, or how service-users engage in self-help activities. This study aimed to explore the views of self-help by service-users and health professionals in one area of Scotland, including the perceptions of what constitutes self-help and how it might be used to address mental health problems in primary care. The research involved semistructured interviews with 31 primary care mental health professionals, and in-depth interviews with 34 service-users. We found that professionals and service-users describe self-help in different ways, which has great implications for referral to and implementation of self-help in primary care settings. It also emerged that self-help was not necessarily perceived to be able to address the causes of mental distress, which could leave some professionals defaulting to offering no interventions despite the fairly positive attitude service-users show to self-help strategies. Finally, professionals need to be convinced that interventions are useful, effective and accessible as there are significant barriers in professionals using self-help; if they are not convinced, such approaches will support their therapeutic approach. The research supports the need to develop methods of delivery that offer self-help as part of a broad package of care that also considers social causes of distress.