Advantages in Mental Health Treatment
Shared decision-making can help patients cope with the uncertainties of mental health treatment. Mental health treatment is often a process of tentative diagnosis, trial and discovery. It is hard to predict how a given treatment will work for each patient, and what side-effects will result.
This approach promotes the active engagement of patients, which is essential throughout the course of treatment. It helps patients share their lifestyle, self-care, and attitudes, all of which affect their mental health and the success of treatment.
Shared decision-making offers a number of potential advantages that can result in better care and outcomes:
- Patients can provide a fuller picture of functioning, concerns and the impact of their condition on their lives, assisting with diagnosis and treatment.
- Shared decision-making improves mutual trust and communication.
- Valuing the patient’s input and participation can lead to greater honesty, more willing engagement, and more willingness to stick with treatment.
- Reservations about treatment options can be surfaced and addressed.
- Disagreements about treatment—including unwillingness to take medication or acknowledge a mental health condition—can be discussed and negotiated.
- Because patients have more say in deciding, they have more investment in the chosen treatment.
- Treatment can be better targeted to the symptoms that matter most to the patient.
- Treating patients as partners in the process encourages them to take more responsibility for themselves.
- Helping patients to understand, accept and manage their disorder is a key aspect of treatment.
Shared decision-making validates the non-medical approaches patients take to manage and recover from their mental illness, such as exercise, jobs, spiritual practices and peer support.
The goal of medical treatment is to restore health and help people heal. For a person with a mental health condition, the goal is to recover not only health, but a full and meaningful life. This often involves gaining new skills and recovering relationships, work and independence that were lost during illness. Shared decision-making allows the patient to validate these needs and factor them into treatment choices.