Co-production of community mental health services: Organising the interplay between public services and civil society in Denmark
Co-production involves knowledge and skills based on both lived experiences of citizens and professionally training of staff. In Europe, co-production is viewed as an essential tool for meeting the demographic, political and economic challenges of welfare states. However, co-production is facing challenges because public services and civil society are rooted in two very different logics. These challenges are typically encountered by provider organisations and their staff who must convert policies and strategies into practice. Denmark is a welfare state with a strong public services sector and a relatively low involvement of volunteers. The aim of this study was to investigate how provider organisations and their staff navigate between the two logics. The present analysis is a critical case study of two municipalities selected from seven participating municipalities, for their maximum diversity. The study setting was the Community Families programme, which aim to support the social network of mental health users by offering regular contact with selected private families/individuals. The task of the municipalities was to initiate and support Community Families. The analysis built on qualitative data generated at the organisational level in the seven participating municipalities. Within the two "case study" municipalities, qualitative interviews were conducted with front-line co-ordinators (six) and line managers (two). The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded using the software program NVivo. The results confirm the central role played by staff and identify a close interplay between public services and civil society logics as essential for the organisation of co-production. Corresponding objectives, activities and collaborative relations of provider organisations are keys for facilitating the co-productive practice of individual staff. Organised in this way, co-production can succeed even in a mental health setting associated with social stigma and in a welfare state dominated by public services.