Dual Diagnosis of mental illness (MI) and acquired brain injury (ABI): Making positive changes towards rehabilitation and recovery.

Aims and Rationale
The aim of this exploratory study was twofold. It sought to describe some of the challenges faced by people with dual diagnosis of ABI and MI; and secondly, from these findings make recommendations on service practices and policies that would be required for an effective post discharge rehabilitation and recovery pathway.

This phenomenological study used in-depth interviews to obtain an insider perspective from eight individuals and/or their families, and case managers. Interviews were transcribed and the researchers used qualitative analysis to identify key themes that reflected the experiences of participants.

Participants faced a lack of appropriate supports available which reflected a deficiency of expertise in understanding the complex intersection of disability and mental illness. This created confused pathways towards recovery and improved quality of life. Participants were either categorized as having ABI or MI leading to inappropriate accommodation, social isolation, and lack of engagement in meaningful activities such as leisure activities and employment. Commonly, participants with ABI/MI fell “between the cracks”.

Implications for policy and practice

The rehabilitation and recovery of people with ABI/MI requires services that have knowledge and expertise in each condition and the implications of dual diagnosis. Improved integration of disability and mental health services will be an important strategy to achieve this.

Mrs Annalise O'Callaghan, Lecturer, School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Centre for Research into Disability and Society, Curtin University will present at the:

13th International Mental Health Conference, "Positive Change -- Investing in Mental Health"  6th to the 8th of August 2012, on the Gold Coast.

Web: https://dev3.anzmh.asn.au/conference Email: conference@anzmh.asn.au

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