Title: Do consumers of mental health services recall receiving information about physical health?
Author(s): Sarah Kelshaw, Grant Sara
Introduction: The physical health of people using mental health services is a critical priority. Services should provide consumers with information about physical health, lifestyle and medication side effects. However, even when this information is provided, how do we know that it is remembered? Our aim was to explore the proportion of consumers who recalled receiving information about physical health in NSW public mental health services.
Method: The NSW version of the national Your Experience of Service (YES) questionnaire includes six additional questions based on the Healthy Active Lives (HeAL) declaration. They ask whether consumers recall being provided with information on diet, smoking, substance use, sexual health, exercise and possible physical side effects of medications.
Results and findings: In 2019-20 more than 60% of people recalled receiving physical health information, but with lower rates for specific domains of drugs and alcohol (57%) and sexual health (32%). Aboriginal consumers reported recalling more information about physical health than non-Aboriginal consumers. Young people are less likely to recall information on all issues, suggesting that services need to make health information more relevant and memorable for young people. People who reported a more positive experience in developing a care plan were more likely to recall information about physical health.
Discussion: If, how and when information is provided has a large impact on people’s overall experience of services. People might not recall receiving information for many reasons. If information is not provided at the right time or in the right way for that individual, it may not be remembered and acted on. Our findings suggest that when information on physical health care is included as part of comprehensive care planning it is more likely to be provided or recalled. Monitoring this through regular surveys might help services to improve their information and support on these issues.