Shifting to "Person-Centered" Care for People With Mental Illnesses

Victoria Stanhope
Victoria Stanhope

State-by-state, the mental health system has been moving toward Person-Centered Care Planning (PCCP), an approach that encourages consumers to participate in their own care planning and decision-making. One of PCCP’s aims is to reduce the high rate of disengagement from treatment by many people with severe mental illnesses. By promoting choice and collaboration, PCCP is designed to put the consumer in the “driver’s seat” of their care and help agencies to align their services with recent health care reform efforts.

Backed by an NIMH grant, Associate Professor Victoria Stanhope and her team will conduct a five-year research study at 14 mental health agencies in Connecticut and Delaware. While numerous states have already embraced the collaborative model as part of health care reform efforts, many are only now looking for guidance on how best to implement it in practice, taking into account tight budgets for workforce training.

The study will test the impact of PCCP, paying close attention to the organizational factors that shape implementation. In the study’s randomized controlled trial phase, Stanhope and her colleagues will compare consumer outcomes at community mental health clinics trained in Person-Centered Care Planning to consumer outcomes where community mental health clinics provide treatment as usual. Qualitative inquiry will be used to better understand the care planning and implementation process associated with the intervention.

This study could generate valuable guidance for state systems engaged in transforming their mental health services.