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Consumer involvement in mind: a study of participation in a voluntary organisation for mental health

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posted on 24.05.2018, 09:01 by Richard Byrt
The thesis is a study of consumer participation, focussing on a case study of MIND. Data were collected from interviewing, participant observation and examination of records. The following are the main conclusions. In order to understand consumer participation, and effectively to increase it, it is necessary to be aware of: the different types of such involvement; the extent to which it includes opposition or collaboration with people in authority; the various types of participant; and the levels and degrees of participation. Levels vary from involvement in decisions about the individual's own care to Central Government policy-making; whilst degrees of participation range from information to the total running of an organisation. Also important is the extent to which consumer participation is openly declared, conscious, and formal or informal. This was found to vary considerably within MIND. MIND has its origins in a beneficent organisation, but from the nineteen seventies, increasing efforts were made to facilitate consumer participation. Almost all respondents were in favour of this, but there was considerable uncertainty about the most effective means to facilitate such involvement, and doubts about whether proposed policies for its implementation would be successful. Respondents often mentioned psychological gains and the value of individuals' skills and abilities as benefits of consumer participation. However, difficulty in taking on responsibility was frequently said to result in problems. The attitudes and aptitudes of members with experience as consumers or mental health professionals, and the personal influence of National/Regional MIND staff, were seen as crucial in facilitating or hindering consumer participation, as were organisational factors such as the structure of meetings, the complexity of functions, and the relationship between different levels of MIND, which resembled Rhodes' description of central–subcentral government relations. The influence of National/Regional MIND on Local Associations was limited because the latter were autonomous charities. The thesis also covers methodological and ethical problems, and the implications of the finding for implementing policies to increase consumer participation in voluntary organisations.


Economic and Social Research Council. World Federation for Mental Health/MIND Congress on Mental Health, Bursary Committee.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


© Richard Byrt

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy at Loughborough University.