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Keywords:

  • mental health;
  • mental health settings

Accessible summary

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    Mental Health Service users should play an important part in research.
  • • 
    This study stemmed from the idea of a group of service users who wanted to understand the attitudes of mental health staff towards them.
  • • 
    A questionnaire was used to look at staff attitudes, and mainly positive opinions were found.
  • • 
    Research in mental health can benefit greatly from more inclusion of mental health service users.

Abstract

Mental Health Service Users (MHSU) are becoming increasingly recognized as very valuable contributors to the research process. The current study originated from the idea of a group of MHSU within a service user and carer research group. They wanted to investigate the attitudes of mental health staff towards clients in an acute mental health setting, as well as their attitudes towards certain aspects of service. An amended version of the ‘Attitudes Towards Acute Mental Health Scale’ was sent to nursing and allied staff at an acute psychiatric unit within the Gloucestershire 2gether NHS Foundation Trust. Fifty-seven of the 200 anonymous questionnaires were returned. Generally positive opinions of MHSU were obtained, but there were divided opinions on questions regarding the aetiology of mental health problems (e.g. social vs. genetic determinants). Opinions on aspects of the admissions process, therapeutic aspects of care, the use of medication and the use of control and restraint techniques were also obtained. Demographic variables of staff age, status and years of experience in mental health were found to be associated with attitudes and opinions. This MHSU-initiated study has extended the literature on mental health staff attitudes towards clients and services in an acute mental health setting. This study is split into two parts, Part A is focused on the process of involving MHSU in this project, Part B is concerned with the empirical investigation.