Objective The aim of this paper is to report on the findings of a consultation project exploring demand for mental health related complementary therapy services in the local area. The project and findings are reported with reference to historical context and the literature from service user, healthcare policy and complementary therapy fields. Design The consultation was commissioned by a voluntary sector mental health organisation to establish whether a case could be made for the development of a mental health related complementary therapy service, and what form such a service might take. The researchers sought breadth and balance by seeking views from four standpoints: mental health service users, informal carers, health and social care professionals, and complementary therapy providers.
Setting The consultation activities took place in statutory and voluntary sector settings in Liverpool and surrounding areas. The Merseyside region is an area of long term social disadvantage and environmental neglect, currently subject to extensive regeneration activity with significant UK and EU funding.
Method Service user views were captured through a combination of focus groups, in mental health centres, and questionnaires, completed at these events or distributed through mental health groups. Health and social care professionals' views were elicited through group meetings, questionnaires or interviews based on the questionnaire structure. Complementary therapy providers completed questionnaires or were interviewed using the questionnaire structure.
Results The consultations discovered a high level of interest and confidence in holistic forms of therapy amongst service users, carers and professionals, together with interest and expertise in helping with mental health related problems amongst the therapists.
Conclusion This main contribution to knowledge is in the wealth of detail about potential therapeutic applications and suggested organisational principles for complementary therapy services in the mental health field. The findings are inconclusive on the macro question of service design.