Medical-legal partnerships: the role of mental health providers and legal authorities in the development of a coordinated approach to supporting mental health clients' legal needs in regional and rural settings
Citation: Speldewinde CA, Parsons I. Medical-legal partnerships: the role of mental health providers and legal authorities in the development of a coordinated approach to supporting mental health clients' legal needs in regional and rural settings. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2015; 15: 3387. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=3387 (Accessed 19 October 2017)
Introduction: Medical-legal partnerships (MLP) are a model in which medical and legal practitioners are co-located and work together to support the health and wellbeing of individuals by identifying and resolving legal issues that impact patients’ health and wellbeing. The aim of this article is to analyse the benefits of this model, which has proliferated in the USA, and its applicability in the context of rural and remote Australia.Key words: Australia, coordinated approach, legal needs, medical-legal partnerships, mental health.
Methods: This review was undertaken with three research questions in mind: What is an MLP? Is service provision for individuals with mental health concerns being adequately addressed by current service models particularly in the rural context? Are MLPs a service delivery channel that would benefit individuals experiencing mental health issues?
Results: The combined searches from all EBSCO Host databases resulted in 462 citations. This search aggregated academic journals, newspapers, book reviews, magazines and trade publications. After several reviews 38 papers were selected for the final review based on their relevance to this review question: How do MLPs support mental health providers and legal service providers in the development of a coordinated approach to supporting mental health clients’ legal needs in regional and rural Australia?
Conclusions: There is considerable merit in pursuing the development of MLPs in rural and remote Australia particularly as individuals living in rural and remote areas have far fewer opportunities to access support services than those people living in regional and metropolitan locations. MLPS are important channels of service delivery to assist in early invention of legal problems that can exacerbate mental health problems.
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