Supporting children whose parent has a mental health problem: an assessment of the education, knowledge, confidence and practices of registered psychiatric nurses in Ireland

Authors


A. Higgins, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, 24 D'Olier Street, Dublin 2, Ireland, E-mail: ahiggins@tcd.ie

Abstract

Accessible summary

  • • Although it is recognized that mental health practitioners should support the children of parents who have a mental health problem, these children are often forgotten or ignored in practice. This study examined nurses' knowledge, confidence and practice in relation to these children.
  • • The findings showed that the nurses had relatively low levels of education, knowledge, confidence and supportive clinical practices when it came to children whose parent has a mental health problem.
  • • There is an urgent need for education on family-focused care, and the development of guidelines and child focused services if the needs of parents and children are to be met.

Abstract

Health professionals, including nurses, stand accused of ignorance or oversight of children whose parent experience a mental health problem. Psychiatric nurses are in an ideal position to respond to children's needs and support their parents in a proactive and sensitive manner. The aim of this study was to explore psychiatric nurses' education, knowledge, confidence and practice with regard to the support needs of children whose parent has a mental health problem. This study employed a self-completion anonymous survey design with a sample of registered psychiatric nurses from one integrated mental health service in Ireland. The sample reported relatively low levels of education, knowledge, confidence and supportive clinical practice when it came to children whose parent has a mental health problem. There is an urgent need for education on family-focused care, and the development of guidelines and child focused services if the needs of parents and children are to be met.

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