Accountability in non-Profit Organizations:

Organizational Mandates and Outcomes Assessment in

Mental Health Services

 

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Summary of Project

Despite substantial research about accountability in the last 20 years (e.g., Hoefer, 2000; Moxham 2008), researchers remain unclear about accountability practices in non-profit organizations. In this report, we examined accountability of non- profit organizations offering mental health services in New Brunswick. In particular, we surveyed the impact of non-profit organizations ́ mandates on outcome measurement. We defined accountability as the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions and products within the scope of the role of non-profit organizations and the obligation to report the results in a transparent manner. Brody (2001) provided a promising framework for examining organizational accountability based on four components: 1) fiscal responsibility, 2) good governance, 3) adherence to mandates, and 4) demonstration of organization ́s outcome measurement. For the purposes of the present study, adherence to mandates and outcome measurement are examined in this report. Likewise, mandates define an organization ́s formally and informally activities required by external authorities. Lastly, outcomes have been defined as those benefits or changes for individuals or communities after participating in the programs offered by non-profit organizations.

According to the report Staying Connected (2011), there has been a rise in the number of youth diagnosed with mental health disorders in New Brunswick, the results from the 2013 State of the Child Report emphasized that youth continue to see a much higher rate of hospitalization than do Canadians in other provinces (11.6 compared to 3.6). These rates reflect depressive episodes, stress reactions, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and eating disorders (NBHC, 2013). The Plan for Mental Health in New Brunswick 2011-2018 recognizes the increasing number of youth suffering from mental illness. Among the objectives of the plan, transforming service delivery through collaboration between government and non-government levels and partnership with family and community members is highlighted as crucial steps in delivering mental health services (Government of New Brunswick, 2011). Although, progress has been made to integrate management action at all government levels, non-profit organizations often act alone, each having limited awareness of what other organizations are doing (Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, 2006). Thus, research is needed to understand the effects of policy and funding mechanisms in non- profit organizations and the effects of collaboration among government levels in New Brunswick.

In addition, there has been a perceived need for the non-profit sector to use outcome measures; however, there is lack of evidence of how non-government organizations of how non-government organizations in the mental health field apply outcome measures (Kightley, Einfeld, & Hancock, 2010). The lack of evidence is partly due to the difficulty of conducting evaluations of the complex social interventions typically deployed within mental health services (Holloway, 2002). Nonetheless, the improvement of mental health outcome measures in non-profit organizations is necessary, due to the force of market competition and the need for transparency in the care delivery process (Baars et al., 2010).