There are conflicting views about the benefits of community treatment orders (CTOs) for people with mental illness. While there is a significant literature on the coercive nature of CTOs, there is less on the impact that CTOs have upon trust. A recovery-oriented approach requires a trusting therapeutic relationship and the coercion inherent in the CTO process may make it difficult for trust to be built, nurtured, and sustained between workers and patients. Our aim was therefore to examine the role of trust within the CTO experience for mental health workers and patients on CTOs. Methods: We conducted a thematic discourse analysis of 8 in-depth interviews with people who were currently on a CTO and 10 interviews with multi-disciplinary mental health workers in Adelaide, Australia (total N = 18 interviews). The interviews were coded and analyzed with the assistance of a patient representative. The findings reveal the challenges and opportunities for trust within the coercive relationship of a CTO. Findings: We found that patients have diverse experiences of CTOs and that trust or mistrust played an import role in whether or not they found the CTO beneficial. I can have different kinds of trust: that you will treat me fairly, that you will have my interests at heart, that you will do me no harm. But if I do not trust your word, can I have genuine trust in the first three? If there is no confidence in the truthfulness of others, is there any way to assess their fairness, their intentions to help or to harm? How, then, can they be trusted? Whatever matters to human beings, trust is the atmosphere in which it thrives. (1, p. 31)
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- mental illness
- mental health workers