, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 161-178

Consumers' and Case Managers' Perceptions of Mental Health and Community Support Service Needs

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Consumers with serious and persistent mental illness (N = 385) and their case managers rated the amount of help needed and the amount of help received with mental health and community support services. Consumers also identified their primary source of help with each type of need. Results highlighted areas of agreement and disagreement between consumers' and case managers' perceptions. Consumers' reports revealed a strong reliance on sources of support outside the mental health system (e.g., family and friends) for many community support service needs, interpersonal needs, and crisis-related needs. In general, correlations between consumers' and case managers' ratings of help needed and help received were low. Consumers perceived the majority of their needs to be unmet; case managers perceived the majority of consumer needs to be overly met. Discussion focuses on the importance of increasing consensus between consumers and case managers regarding needs by including consumers in treatment planning and providing them with more information about available services. It is recommended that researchers and evaluators examine perceptions of help needed, help received, and sources of help when assessing service needs.