Health

Study highlights importance of bonding between young mental health patients and nurses

The young people, all based in mental health services for children and adolescents across four locations in the UK, described how their relationship with nurses could influence their progress during treatment.

The researchers interviewed the participants extensively and identified six themes that described therapeutic relationships, their development and maintenance.

One of the themes revolved around the feeling that therapeutic relationships are a treatment in itself.

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dr. Harley said: “Therapeutic relationships are particularly relevant in inpatient mental health services for children and adolescents, where relationships are particularly complex and difficult to develop and maintain.

“Our analysis indicates that young people, families and nurses all agree that these relationships are crucial for good results. These groups would be better served by a system that prioritizes the formation and maintenance of effective therapeutic relationships.

“That takes enough staff, training and time to connect and do ‘normal’ things together.

“Aspects of the workforce that could impact this success should also be considered, such as staff retention, where continuity of care and relationships may be hindered.”

She added: “The balance between being human and professional is a tricky one and could benefit from ‘live’ focused staff support alongside more static training and supervision.

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“We hope that the testimonials of these patients, nurses and parents, and our analysis will serve to motivate policy makers, service managers and clinicians to focus on therapeutic relationships, which are essential for quality hospital care, and provide them with the structures, support and provide meaning they deserve.”

Quote: Hartley S, Redmond T, Berry K (2022) Therapeutic relationships within child and adolescent mental health: a qualitative exploration of the experiences of youth, relatives and nursing staff. PLOS ONE 17(1): e0262070. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0262070

An animated video summary is available here

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