[The role of the mental health community in an evolving mental health system. State of knowledge and recommendations].

Title[The role of the mental health community in an evolving mental health system. State of knowledge and recommendations].
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsGrenier G., MJ Fleury
JournalSante Ment Que
Date Published2014 Spring

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this article are: 1) to trace the history and role of mental health community organizations (MHCO) in the Quebec mental health system as well as their specific values and practices; and 2) to examine the impact of the Quebec Mental Health Plan 2005-2010 on the functioning of community organizations and their relations with the public healthcare system.METHODS: This article draws upon writings produced by the principal provincial and regional community organization associations in Québec, as well as results of previous studies related to inter-organizational relations among MHCO.RESULTS: The Quebec community-based system consists of several successive generations of the MHCO, each constructed within a particular context. Before 1960, the Canadian Mental Health Association offered activities for promotion and prevention in mental health and participated in the development of several MHCO. The 1970s witnessed the formation of groups aimed at the protection of human rights and the first alternative resources. During the 1980s and 90s, a proliferation of MHCO followed upon their formal recognition by the Ministère de la Santé et des services sociaux (MSSS). These new organizations were established not so much in opposition, or as an alternative, to the public mental health system, but in complement with it. By 2012-13, there were 412 MCHO financed by the MSSS offering services to the population. Roughly half were located in the regions of Montreal, Montérégie and the Capitale Nationale. The MHCO are distinguished from public institutions by a number of characteristics: 1) treatment based not on diagnosis but on the overall situation of the person; 2) shared experience with peers; and 3) empowerment, inviting the person to become involved in decisions concerning his/her treatment and service use as well as decisions that concern the functioning of the organization; 4) establishment of more egalitarian relationships between service users and treating professionals; and 5) rootedness of the organization within the community. MCHO are grouped at the provincial level according to their functions, their ideological affinity, and or their particular mandate, but there is no national classification of community organizations as yet. The financing of community organizations remains a principal source of discontent. The MSSS has indicated that the overall financing of MCHO should correspond to at least 10% of global expenditures for mental health programming, whereas the actual budget is equivalent to only 8.8%. This underfunding obliges community organizations to reduce services despite demands for increased financial assistance, which runs the risk of provoking increased "revolving door" situations, and the utilization of emergency services in cases of service users transferred from hospitals to the Health Social Services Centers, who are in difficulty after losing contact with their service providers who would otherwise have provided follow-up. As well, MCHO fear the loss of their autonomy and of being reduced to the role of secondary services in signing these service agreements. The current reform would represent a step backward for MHCO in terms of recognition of their expertise. The former consultation structures have been dispossessed of any real power, decision making now being in the hands of the regional agency and directors of institutions. Numerous relocations of personnel have also lead to breaks in contact between MCHO and the public system, as these relationships were usually informal.CONCLUSIONS: A number of recommendations emanate from these findings that may permit MHCO to respond more adequately to the needs of the population served without calling into question their autonomy: 1) offer more adequate financing, particularly for self-help groups and organizations offering psychosocial rehabilitation, access to education and work reintegration; 2) allocate specific services exclusively to the community-based system in order to avoid duplication in services; 3) recognize a multiplicity of approaches; and 4) reconstruct appropriate decision making structures.

Alternate JournalSante Ment Que
PubMed ID25120118