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Journal cover: Journal of Public Mental Health

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Online from: 1999

Subject Area: Health and Social Care

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Third sector organisations: unique or simply other qualified providers?

Document Information:
Title:Third sector organisations: unique or simply other qualified providers?
Author(s):Robin Miller, (Based at the Third Sector Research Centre/Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Citation:Robin Miller, (2013) "Third sector organisations: unique or simply other qualified providers?", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 12 Iss: 2, pp.103 - 113
Keywords:Commissioning, Health care, Mental health, Mental health services, Outcomes, Personalization, Social care, Third sector
Article type:General review
DOI:10.1108/JPMH-10-2012-0014 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) and the Barrow Cadbury UK Trust is gratefully acknowledged. The work was part of the programme of the joint ESRC, OTS and Barrow Cadbury Third Sector Research Centre.

Purpose – The third sector has been promoted by progressive English governments as a provider of health and social care services for people with mental health difficulties. This article aims to consider the assumptions that lie behind these polices and reviews the evidence that third sector organisations can be said to have a “unique” role and approach. The challenges and opportunities of the current market-based reforms for the third sector are discussed.

Design/methodology/approach – The article is based on literature reviews of the third sector's role in mental health care and commissioning of third sector organisations.

Findings – The third sector delivers a range of mental health services in England, in particular those related to accommodation, advice, advocacy and employment. Its activity extends into other roles such as campaigning and development of new approaches to care and support. Evidence of the distinctiveness of the sector as a whole is limited, but there are examples of such organisations providing innovative and user-led services. Market-based reforms are seen as posing a threat to smaller organisations in particular but personalised approaches (including allocation of individual budgets), outcome-based payments and a need for large-scale service redesign are seen as offering considerable opportunity for expansion.

Practical implications – For the new market to include a strong third sector will require leadership within organisations, a collaborative approach within the sector, and commissioners that understand and engage positively with the sector in all its diversity.

Originality/value – This article draws together the research literature on the third sector's engagement in mental health and the impact of market-based reforms and in doing so provides original value in the fields of mental health and third sector studies.

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