Breaking through the Glass Ceiling: Consumers in Mental Health Organisations' Hierarchies

Brett Scholz, Julia Bocking, Brenda Happell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    Contemporary mental health policies call for consumers to be engaged in all levels of mental health service planning, implementation, and delivery. Critical approaches to traditional healthcare hierarchies can effectively challenge barriers to better engagement with consumers in mental health organisations. This qualitative exploratory study analyses how particular strategies for consumer leadership facilitate or hinder relationships between consumers and mental health services, and how these strategies influence hierarchical structures. Fourteen participants from a range of mental health organisations were interviewed. These interviews were analysed using thematic analytic and discursive psychological techniques. The findings highlight several benefits of having consumers within mental health organisational hierarchies, and elaborate on ways that employees within mental health services can support integration of consumers into existing hierarchies. Specific barriers to consumers in hierarchies are discussed, including a lack of clarity of structures and roles within hierarchies, and resistance to consumers reaching the highest levels of leadership within organisations. Alternative hierarchical models which privilege consumers' control over resources and power are also discussed. Mental health organisations are encouraged to integrate consumer leaders into their hierarchical structures to improve their organisational offerings, their reputation, and their service innovation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)374-380
    Number of pages7
    JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2017


    Dive into the research topics of 'Breaking through the Glass Ceiling: Consumers in Mental Health Organisations' Hierarchies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this