Balancing competing interests and obligations in mental health‐care practice and policy

Bioethics 33 (6):699-707 (2019)
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Abstract

It is often challenging for mental health‐care providers and health organizations to perform their various roles and to meet their varied obligations. In complex mental health‐care circumstances the concurrent application of relevant ethical principles and values often leads to the emergence of completing obligations that need to be carefully weighed and balanced in the making of care‐related decisions. Although some clinical circumstances, such as those potentially triggering the duty to warn, are adequately guided by existing rules based on legal precedents, there is a gap in decision‐making support in other mental health‐care domains. This article proposes that a set of targeted, decision‐making approaches be developed to assist in the handling of specific, challenging circumstances. By way of illustration, two novel approaches are introduced; that is, choosing to work within a moral relational space of optimal therapeutic engagement (at the micro level of clinical practice), and the use of a health policy development approach that instantiates deliberative engagement (at the meso and macro levels of health organization).

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