Give control

People should be able (where they can) to make informed choices about the support they receive.

Further description

Giving control is about enabling people to make informed choices about the support they receive and how they engage with it. There are a number of areas we can apply the principle of giving control across the design and delivery of mental health services. 

The King’s Fund and National Voices outlined a series of areas where control could be considered, both from an individual perspective as a person or registered patient, and where control can be shared or considered in different ways. These included:

• Shared decision-making;

• Supported self-management;

• Having a personal health or social care budget;

• Involving families and carers;

• Choosing a provider.

Assessment and decision-making is a key area when considering control. We can consider control in the context of who makes decisions on what is right for a person. 

Giving people the tools and frameworks to independently or jointly assess their needs and understand what kind of interventions or support might be relevant for them. 

Joint assessment can provide value in terms of expertise. Health professionals can bring expertise in: Diagnosis, Disease aetiology, Prognosis, Treatment Options and outcome probabilities. 

A person or patient can bring expertise in their experience of the illness, social circumstances, attitude to risk, values and preferences (Coulter and Collins 2011).

Considering control in these scenarios is important to ensure we are empowering people to make informed decisions (where they are able to) about the care they engage with or receive. Thinking carefully about how a mental health assessment is designed and experienced is a good first step in considering if a ‘user’ of your service had control to make informed choices.

Giving control is about a person being able to make the best decision for themselves possible. This can be achieved through lots of mechanisms;

• Providing reflective tools is a way in which you can give people control in addressing their own mental health independently, or coming to the conclusion they might need some support. 

Preparing people for the use of a mental health service can help give people control of situations where they might feel anxious or where they are not able to ask questions.

• Allowing people to change treatment or review their current experience in a way it feels safe to do. This might mean making it easy for people to get a second opinion and feeling like they can pursue this. 

• Defining individual goals relevant to a person’s context is a way of giving control. 

Control can be designed from complete control down to a range of choices. It’s important to recognise this principle across all elements of your product or service design and interrogate it through the design process.


Further reading

Creating Safe Online Spaces for Young People. Centre for Youth Impact NPC. Kelly Bradshaw-Walsh. (2020).

Creating a safe spaces online. Barnardo's. Jessica Kyriacou. (2020).

Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, NHS Digital, Franziska Marcheselli et al. (2017).

Keeping children safe online. NPC. Alex Green. (2019). 

Children's Mental Health. Safeguarding Network. (2021).

Safeguarding & Protecting Children Policy and Procedure. Barnardo’s. Kathryn Brown et al. (2019). 

Developing Safe Care in Mental Health for Children and Young People: Drawing on UK Experience for Solutions to an Under-Recognised Problem. Current Treatment Options in Pediatrics. Daniel Hayes BSc et al. (2015). 

Enabling Online Safe Spaces: A Case Study of Love Matters Kenya. IDS Bulletin. Maaike van Heijningen, Lindsay van Clief. (2017).