Publication Details

Barr, K., Jewell, M., Townsend, M. & Grenyer, B. (2020). Living with personality disorder and seeking mental health treatment: Patients and family members reflect on their experiences. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 7 (1),


The Author(s). Background: Despite effective treatments for personality disorders being developed, consumers and carers often report negative experiences of mental health services, including challenges accessing these treatments. Methods: This qualitative study used separate focus groups to compare the unique perspectives of consumer and carers, and to investigate how to improve services for individuals with personality disorders. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. Results: Both consumers and carers (N = 15) discussed the value of providing appropriate information to consumers when they are diagnosed with personality disorder. Consumers and carers described the importance of creating a safe environment for consumers when they present to the emergency department. Both groups discussed experiencing positive and negative treatment from mental health professionals, and suggested that professionals should be trained to understand personality disorder. Limited accessibility and quality of services, and offering peer support to consumers were also described by consumers and carers. Consumers and carers also had perspectives which were unique to their group. Consumers identified the importance of psychological treatment, having a strong therapeutic relationship with a mental health professional, and the benefit of long term psychotherapy with the same professional. Broadening the scope of psychotherapies including creative, animal-assisted, and physical therapies was recommended by consumers. Carers described the importance of assessing for personality disorder and intervening early. Involvement in the assessment, diagnosis, and intervention process was important to carers. The desire to be recognized and supported by mental health professionals was discussed by carers. Conclusions: This research contributes to the concern that consumers with personality disorder and their carers experience stigma and low quality care within mental health services. In line with these findings, we recommend guidelines for health professionals who work with consumers with personality disorder.



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