To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Utilising community engagement approaches to influence public mental health policy in a rural setting

Claire Thirlwall (DG Health & Wellbeing, Directorate of Public Health, Dumfries, UK)
Sandy Whitelaw (School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow Dumfries Campus, Dumfries, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 7 August 2019

Issue publication date: 2 June 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing on the notion of “mental health policy participation”, the purpose of this paper is to describe and reflect on a regional case study of a community engagement approach that explored community perspectives on mental health and the factors that influence it. It established three expectations, that: the development of the Dumfries and Galloway Public Mental Health Strategy is informed by project outputs; services and innovations are based on what people want; active involvement of local people in decision making around mental health services and strategy is achieved.

Design/methodology/approach

A “participatory appraisal” approach was used to engage with communities. A three-day “Training of Trainers” exercise was undertaken. These individuals then accessed a number of community groups. Data collection was based on five key questions. A total of 443 were engaged in the process. Insights were reviewed by 20 stakeholders from a range of services to identify key actions. This led to the development of the mental health forum and, in turn, a Public Mental Health Strategy for Dumfries and Galloway. Community members were further included in processes through feedback mechanisms.

Findings

Factors of resilience, support of families and friends, social inclusion, access to social and leisure opportunities were most important. This was followed by structural issues like fear of judgement, lack of transport, discrimination and financial support. Finally, individual factors (sleep, meaningful hobbies and health) were highlighted.

Originality/value

This approach sought to go beyond a traditional focus to explore broader community perspectives on mental health and the factors that influence it.

Keywords

Citation

Thirlwall, C. and Whitelaw, S. (2020), "Utilising community engagement approaches to influence public mental health policy in a rural setting", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 169-178. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-07-2018-0045

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited