Recent mental health care policy has addressed the need for health care professionals to consider the physical health of consumers. Mental health nurses are particularly well-placed for this role. To provide mental health nurses with practical information, this narrative review summarises evidence from recent research on the physical health of individuals with Serious Mental Illness (SMI). In those with SMI, the international prevalence of obesity, the metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, symptoms of cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease all exceed that of the general population by at least two times, and HIV prevalence may be increased by as much as eight times. This increased prevalence of chronic disease may be largely responsible for an increased risk of death of up to five times, resulting in as much as 30 years of potential life lost. Of particular concern, the recent evidence suggests that for physical health and increased mortality, the gap between individuals with SMI and the general population is worsening. Unhealthy lifestyle behaviours undoubtedly play a role in the development of poor physical health and chronic disease, and the present review indicates that low physical activity, poor diet, smoking, alcohol and substance abuse, and risky sexual behaviour are common in individuals with SMI. This narrative review demonstrates that the prevalence of poor physical health and health behaviours in people with SMI far exceed that observed in the general population, and reinforces the urgent need for mental health nurses to address physical health concerns in patients.
Many nursing students regard mental health nursing as the least preferred career option. Education, via classroom teaching and clinical placements, seems to engender more positive attitudes towards mental health nursing. There is no evidence, however, that changing student attitudes results in more graduates beginning careers in mental health nursing. REFERENCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: The constancy of negative attitudes to mental health nursing over time suggests the focus of research should shift. Clinicians have the capacity to promote a more positive view of mental health nursing. This requires further exploration.
Mental health consumers are sexual beings; however, their sexual desire, capacity, and ability to maintain previous sexual patterns can be altered by their illness or by the effects and side-effects of medications. The sexuality of consumers has been poorly addressed, and the limited evidence suggests that mental health nurses remain ambivalent to including sexuality in their care. This paper presents the findings of a research project investigating the practices of mental health nurses in assessing and supporting the sexuality of consumers. A qualitative, exploratory approach underpinned individual interviews with 14 mental health nurses from inpatient and community settings. The participants acknowledged the importance of sexuality; however, most were reluctant to enquire about consumer concerns and tended to either ignore the issue or refer it to another clinician. Four themes were identified: talking about or avoiding sexuality concerns with consumers; sexuality is not an important priority; refer to others, as talking about sexuality is not 'my' job; and sexuality is poorly addressed by others. It is important that barriers to the assessment and discussion of sexuality are identified, and measures are taken to overcome them.
Government inquiries and workforce data continue to draw attention to the current and impending crisis in mental health nursing. While undergraduate nursing education has been found at least partially responsible for the negative attitudes nursing students tend to hold towards mental health nursing, clinical experience has been identified as a potential strategy in enhancing more positive attitudes. However, research to date has not focused on the impact of clinical experience on specific factors such as attitudes to mental health nursing to people experiencing mental illness and perceived preparedness for the mental health field. This quasi-experimental study measured changes in students' attitudes to the three factors, including satisfaction with clinical experience following a placement in mental health nursing. A questionnaire was administered to undergraduate nursing students on the first and last day of a mental health clinical placement. This, the first of a two-part paper, compares student responses over the two-time periods and describes satisfaction with the clinical experience. The findings suggest that clinical experience in mental health nursing experience can positively influence attitudes, preparedness for practice, and the popularity of mental health nursing. Satisfaction with clinical experience was also high.
BackgroundThe authors of a recent systematic review concluded that the use of non-pharmacological containment methods, excluding restraint and seclusion, was not supported by evidence. Their focus on randomised, controlled trials, however, does not reflect the research that has been, or could be, conducted.AimsTo find empirically supported interventions that allow reduction in the use of seclusion in psychiatric facilities.MethodWe reviewed English-language, peer-reviewed literature on interventions that allow reduction in the use of seclusion.ResultsStaff typically used multiple interventions, including state-level support, state policy and regulation changes, leadership, examinations of the practice contexts, staff integration, treatment plan improvement, increased staff to patient ratios, monitoring seclusion episodes, psychiatric emergency response teams, staff education, monitoring of patients, pharmacological interventions, treating patients as active participants in seclusion reduction interventions, changing the therapeutic environment, changing the facility environment, adopting a facility focus, and improving staff safety and welfare.ConclusionsReducing seclusion rates is challenging and generally requires staff to implement several interventions.
Within the nursing profession stress and burnout are considered to be widely present and problematic. These factors tend to impact negatively on job satisfaction and ultimately affect the retention of nurses. Psychiatric/mental health nursing as a specialty is considered to be a highly stressful environment; however, there is a paucity of research in this area. The current study adopted a survey design to compare forensic psychiatric nurses (n = 51) with psychiatric nurses from a mainstreamed mental health service (n = 78) in relation to burnout and job satisfaction. Forensic nurses displayed lower burnout and higher job satisfaction than their counterparts from the mainstreamed services. These findings are surprising in light of the image of forensic psychiatric nursing as dangerous and unpredictable.
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