National seclusion and restraint project

In the National Mental Health Commission’s extensive discussions with the community, services and stakeholders, practices of seclusion and restraint have consistently been raised as an issue people want something done about. It has been raised by people with lived experience of mental health issues and their families, and it has been raised by service providers and workers and policy makers as well.

While this is a very complex issue, the Commission recommended in its 2012 Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention that action must be taken to reduce the use of involuntary practices and work to eliminate seclusion and restraint.

In 2013 the National Mental Health Commission engaged the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Melbourne to look at best practice in reducing and eliminating the use of seclusion and restraint in relation to mental health issues and help identify good practice treatment approaches. The research team identified the factors that drive current practice in service delivery and evaluated how these factors can lead to best practice.

The project collected data from a survey and focus groups and invited the direct input of people with lived experience, their families, friends and supporters as well as service providers, workforce interest groups and first responders. It also established two advisory groups which consisted of people who have experienced seclusion or restraint themselves and carers, families or friends of people who have experienced seclusion or restraint. Each group consisted of six people who were continuously engaged with the research team and provided input throughout all stages of the project.

With the participation of people with lived experience, their families, friends and supporters as well as practitioners and other service providers working in a range of mental health, general health, custodial and community settings, the project team:

  • identified and assessed the drivers behind current practice in Australia;
  • provided examples of how seclusion and restraint practices have been reduced or eliminated; and
  • discussed options for reducing and eliminating the use of seclusion and restraint in relation to mental health issues in Australia.

Researchers

Bernadette McSherry [Melbourne Social Equity Institute, UoM]

Janet Clinton [Melbourne Graduate School of Education, UoM]

Carol Harvey [Psychosocial Research Centre, UoM]

Stuart Kinner [Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, UoM]

Bridget Hamilton [Department of Nursing, UoM]

Lisa Brophy [Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, UoM]

Cath Roper [Centre for Psychiatric Nursing, UoM]

Annegret Kaempf [Melbourne Social Equity Institute, UoM]

Piers Gooding [Melbourne Social Equity Institute, UoM]

Hadeel Al-Nawab [Melbourne Graduate School of Education, UoM]

Kay Wilson [Melbourne Social Equity Institute, UoM]

Juan Tellez [Melbourne Social Equity Institute, UoM]

Research outputs

Publications

Melbourne Social Equity Institute (2014) Seclusion and restraint project report. Melbourne: University of Melbourne

Media

Four Corners: is using restraints akin to torture?The Conversation, Tuesday 26 July 2016

No longer justifiable: seclusion and restraint practices in mental healthThe Age, Tuesday 10 June 2014

Targeting isolation and restraint in mental health facilitiesThe Conversation, Monday 9 September 2013

Research Program

Disability and mental health