Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Service users, metaphors and teamworking in mental health

Warne, T; Stark, S


T Warne

S Stark


Despite the United Kingdom's recent governmental mental health policy directives aimed at strengthening professional collaboration and increasing service user involvement, the prevailing mental health care culture remains steeped in a discourse of treatment and care, control and compliance and professional expertise. Drawing upon the data collected during the two phases of a 2-year national evaluation undertaken for the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, the perceptions of a group of mental health service users in relation to their experiences and contact with the multi-professional team are explored. A series of metaphorical descriptions were developed with these service users drawn from their experience. These begin to illuminate a realistic way of thinking about how teams are set up, how and why they carry out their various roles, and the need to think in non-professional terms about the relationships that are developed with service users. A hierarchy of power was noted that was congruent with the outcomes of other studies. However, there was also a concurrent acknowledgement of the ‘usefulness’(to the individual service user) of each of the professional group members. This appeared to have been constructed alongside the power hierarchy and serves to illustrate how individual service users sought to find an accommodation within the social system they were placed in. This paper argues however, that the use of metaphors, as a form of shared communication, can be an effective first step in working towards this objective. Working in the way described here can allow for a greater shared understanding of what each group is experiencing and help ensure that future service development reflects a broader view of the mental health care world.


Warne, T., & Stark, S. (2004). Service users, metaphors and teamworking in mental health. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 11(6), 654-661.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2004
Deposit Date Aug 3, 2007
Journal Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Print ISSN 1351-0126
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 6
Pages 654-661
Keywords Metaphors, service users, teamworking, usefulness
Publisher URL

Downloadable Citations