The experiences of support workers of people with schizophrenia in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Osei, Benjamin Eric
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This study sets out to find out from mental health support workers their lived experiences in giving support to persons with schizophrenia and other mental health conditions in Winnipeg. Ineffective policy, poorly organized support systems and expensive medications all contribute to placing the burden directly on families. The result is higher emotional costs and lower standards of life among support providers as well as the people they support. The researcher relied on the social model of disability as the underlying concept for this study. This model holds that social and attitudinal barriers affect persons with disabilities; therefore, it is incumbent on society to provide all the essential accommodations for persons with mental health conditions to improve their health and well-being. Through qualitative methodology with phenomenology as its design the researcher was able to recruit and interview six people who are mental health support workers in Winnipeg and have been involved in support service delivery with experience on the job between two and ten years. Approval was given by the Research Ethics Board 2 (REB 2). Ethical procedures were followed. A consent form was given to each of the study participants who voluntarily agreed to engage in this project to sign. The findings reveal that mental health support workers encounter a number of challenges associated with their service delivery for persons with mental health conditions particularly due to the support plan used by the support agencies. These include excessive control of the lives of the clients, the inability of support staff to make adjustments in the support plan, and inadequate provision of staff and staff security, among others. Additionally, the respondents highlighted some barriers and restrictions in their service delivery as well as on the lives of the persons with disabilities under their care/supervision. As a result, these mental health support workers as well as the researcher made suggestions in this paper that will improve the support service and also give the needed freedom and accommodation to the people with mental health conditions living in individual and group homes in Winnipeg and across Canada.
Schizophrenia, Mental health, Support workers, Experiences in support service delivery, Support plan, Phenomenology, Barriers in support delivery