• acute inpatient unit;
  • mental health nursing;
  • psychosocial intervention


Acute inpatient units provide care for the most acutely unwell people experiencing a mental illness. As a result, the focus for care is on the containment of difficult behaviour and the management of those considered to be ‘at high risk’ of harm. Subsequently, recovery-based philosophies are being eroded, and psychosocial interventions are not being provided. Despite the pivotal role that mental health nurses play in the treatment process in the acute inpatient setting, a review of the literature indicates that mental health nursing practice is too custodial, and essentially operates within an observational framework without actively providing psychosocial interventions. This paper will discuss the problems with mental health nursing practice in acute inpatient units highlighted in the current literature. It will then put forward the argument for routine use of psychosocial interventions as a means of addressing some of these problems.