Tag: mental health systems

More observations from a small country

This new paper has been a long time in the making. Work on it began with preparations for an address given at the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses conference in 2018. Refinements and updates happened towards the end of 2019, in the context of preparing for a talk delivered at a Royal College of Nursing-sponsored event in Cardiff in 2019, with a further version presented at an online conference organised by Julia Terry, from Swansea University, during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown. Along the way the written article has benefited from a critical reading from both Michael Coffey and  Nicola Evans, and from no fewer than four anonymous peer reviewers. My thanks to all of them.

Observations from a small country: mental health policy, services and nursing in Wales can be downloaded in green open access form from the Cardiff University institutional repository, and has this as its abstract:

Wales is a small country, with an aging population, high levels of population health need and an economy with a significant reliance on public services. Its health system attracts little attention, with analyses tending to underplay the differences between the four countries of the United Kingdom (UK). This paper helps redress this via a case study of Welsh mental health policy, services and nursing practice. Distinctively, successive devolved governments in Wales have emphasised public planning and provision. Wales also has primary legislation addressing sustainability and future generations, safe nurse staffing, and rights of access to mental health services. However, in a context in which gaps always exist between national policy, local services and face-to-face care, evidence points to the existence of tension between Welsh policy aspirations and realities. Mental health nurses in Wales have produced a framework for action, which describes practice exemplars and looks forward to a secure future for the profession. With policy, however enlightened, lacking the singular potency to bring about intended change, nurses as the largest of the professional groups involved in mental health care have opportunities to make a difference in Wales through leadership, influence and collective action.

The argument I’ve developed here is that policy for health care in Wales, and for mental health care specifically, has distinctive features. As a peer reviewer I continue to have to correct manuscripts which conflate ‘England’ with the ‘UK’, and I’ve tried in this article to point out some of the things which make Wales different. I have also highlighted what seem, to me, to be gaps between well-intentioned policy aspirations and actual experiences as revealed through research. Overall, though, I intend the paper to convey a message of optimism, noting (amongst other things) the high value placed on the relational work of mental health nurses and the positive differences nurses make. Enjoy the read!

Mental health policy, services and nursing in Wales

The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to the existence of devolved government in the UK. Here in Wales we’re used to hearing from Mark Drakeford, but my guess is that it’s only in recent months that most people in other parts of the UK will have become actively aware of his role as First Minister, and indeed the authority held by the Welsh Government to create policy and to legislate. For a helpful discussion on all things Wales and COVID-related, here’s a link to an episode of The Bunker podcast on the same.

In a Wales-themed episode of #mhTV held in October 2020 I joined a discussion panel alongside Hazel Powell (Nursing Officer for Mental Health and Learning Disability in the Chief Nursing Officer’s team) and Michelle Forkings (Associate Director of Nursing/Divisional Nurse for Mental Health and Learning Disability in Aneurin Bevan University Health Board) to talk about policy, power and mental health health nursing. Here’s a link:

Coordinating mental health care

Hot on the heels of the publication of this paper from COCAPP, I’ve had two opportunities in recent weeks to present the content to (very select) groups, first at City, University of London and then at the South Wales Mental Health Nursing Journal Club and Seminar Group. Because I can, I thought to share the slides: so here they are, for anyone interested:

Ordinary risks and accepted fictions

Ordinary risksThis new paper you need to read. You also can, because it is published in gold open access form and is therefore free to download to anyone with an internet connection. Lead authored by Michael Coffey, and arising from the larger COCAPP study (see also here, here and here), it draws on qualitative data to examine in detail what staff, service users and carers say about risk assessment and management. Here’s the abstract:

Background

Communication and information sharing are considered crucial to recovery-focused mental health services. Effective mental health care planning and coordination includes assessment and management of risk and safety.

Objective

Using data from our cross-national mixed-method study of care planning and coordination, we examined what patients, family members and workers say about risk assessment and management and explored the contents of care plans.

Design

Thematic analysis of qualitative research interviews (n = 117) with patients, family members and workers, across four English and two Welsh National Health Service sites. Care plans were reviewed (n = 33) using a structured template.

Findings

Participants have contrasting priorities in relation to risk. Patients see benefit in discussions about risk, but cast the process as a worker priority that may lead to loss of liberty. Relationships with workers are key to family members and patients; however, worker claims of involving people in the care planning process do not extend to risk assessment and management procedures for fear of causing upset. Workers locate risk as coming from the person rather than social or environmental factors, are risk averse and appear to prioritize the procedural aspects of assessment.

Conclusions

Despite limitations, risk assessment is treated as legitimate work by professionals. Risk assessment practice operates as a type of fiction in which poor predictive ability and fear of consequences are accepted in the interests of normative certainty by all parties. As a consequence, risk adverse options are encouraged by workers and patients steered away from opportunities for ordinary risks thereby hindering the mobilization of their strengths and abilities.

Reported here is one of the most important sets of findings arising from the COCAPP study. Diana Rose has written a post on the article, which is scheduled to appear on the inestimable Mental Elf site next week. I’m very much looking forward to reading that.

Resilience of community mental health nurses in Palestine

Earlier this week a new article lead authored by Mohammad Marie, and co-authored by Aled Jones and me, was published in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. The title of the article is Resilience of nurses who work in community mental
health workplaces in Palestine
, and is the second paper arising from Mohammad’s completed PhD. As the article appears in gold open access form copies can be directly downloaded from the journal’s website for free: or indeed, by clicking either the hyperlinked title or image above.

The larger part of Mohammad’s qualitative dataset is interviews conducted with CMHNs working in the West Bank. Fifteen practitioners took part, from a total population of 17. For the record, that’s 17 community mental health nurses for a population of some three million people. That’s an astonishingly low number by UK standards; for more on mental health needs and services in Palestine, the place to go is Mohammad’s first paper (Mental health needs and services in the West Bank, Palestine) about which I previously blogged here.

Here is the abstract from this latest paper:

People in Palestine live and work in a significantly challenging environment. As a result of these challenges they have developed resilient responses which are embedded in their cultural context. ‘Sumud’, in particular, is a socio-political concept which refers to ways of surviving in the context of occupation, chronic adversity, lack of resources and limited infrastructure. Nurses’ work in Palestine is an under-researched subject and very little is known about how nurses adjust to such challenging environments. To address this gap in the literature this study aimed to explore the resilience of community mental health nurses (CMHNs) who work in Palestine. An interpretive qualitative design was chosen. Fifteen face-to-face interviews were completed with participants. Thirty-two hours of observations of the day-to-day working environment and workplace routines were conducted in two communities’ mental health centres. Written documents relating to practical job-related policies were also collected from various workplaces. Thematic analysis was used across all data sources resulting in four main themes, which describe the sources of resilience among CMHNs. These sources are ‘Sumud and Islamic cultures’, ‘Supportive relationships’, ‘Making use of the available resources’, and ‘Personal capacity’. The study concludes with a better understanding of resilience in nursing, which draws on wider cultural contexts and social ecological responses. The outcomes from this study will be used to develop the resilience of CMHNs in Palestine.

The idea of ‘Samud’ which is referred to above is an important one in Mohammad’s work, and (as I have learned) for Palestinian people. Drawing on the work of Toine Van Teeffelen, here is what Mohammad says about it in his thesis:

[Samud] is the art of living to survive and thrive on their homeland in spite of hardship and under occupation practices. These skills of how to live are used in different aspects of life such as economic, political and social. They can also be used at many levels: individual, family and within the Palestinian community. Moreover, Sumud has been divided into two types: tangible resources such as the infrastructure supporting basic needs (for example, schools and hospitals) which enable the existence of the Palestinians on their land and help them to be more resilient. In addition intangible sources of Sumud also exist, which include: belief systems, religion and social and family support which help the Palestinians to cope with their chronic daily collective suffering.

For Mohammad, Samud is closely related to the more familiar (to me, at any rate) idea of resilience. Or, more properly put, Samud connects to social ecological variants of resilience which place as much emphasis on the social and cultural as they do on the individual.

I’ll stop here and leave people to download and read this new paper for themselves. For those interested, Mohammad, Aled and I are working on further publications from this doctorate: so more will follow in due course.

Understanding mental health systems and services — Mental Health / Iechyd Meddwl

Here’s a link to my first post for a new Cardiff University Mental Health Blog. The content will be broadly familar to people who have dipped into my personal blog in the past, insofar as I have chosen to say something general about doing mental health services research.

Working in collaboration with colleagues across the UK, including with people who have directly used services, researchers in the School of Healthcare Sciences at Cardiff University study mental health systems.

via Understanding mental health systems and services — Mental Health / Iechyd Meddwl

Clicking the hyperlink above, which appears beneath the brief snippet of text, will take you to the full piece. There are already some interesting other posts on the site, too, including a piece by Mike Owen written as an opener.

Mental health needs and services in Palestine

Mohammad Marie, Aled Jones and I have co-authored a paper arising from Mohammad’s PhD. This appears in the gold open access International Journal of Mental Health Systems, and a copy can be downloaded by following this link.

The article is titled Mental health needs and services in the West Bank, Palestine and has this for an abstract:

Background: Palestine is a low income country with scarce resources, which is seeking independence. This paper discusses the high levels of mental health need found amongst Palestinian people, and examines services, education and research in this area with particular attention paid to the West Bank.
Methods: CINAHL, PubMed, and Science Direct were used to search for materials.
Results and conclusion: Evidence from this review is that there is a necessity to increase the availability and quality of mental health care. Mental health policy and services in Palestine need development in order to better meet the needs of service users and professionals. It is essential to raise awareness of mental health and increase the integration of mental health services with other areas of health care. Civilians need their basic human needs met, including having freedom of movement and seeing an end to the occupation. There is a need to enhance the resilience and
capacity of community mental health teams. There is a need to increase resources and offer more support, up-to-date training and supervision to mental health teams.

Further papers from Mohammad’s study will follow, and I’ll aim to post updates as work progresses.

Cumulative insights

Not for the first time, I’ve attempted to produce some cumulative insights from the past and present mental health research studies I’ve had the opportunity to work on. These include my PhD investigation into work and roles in community mental health care, my post-doctoral study of crisis services, and more recent projects which Alan Simpson, Michael Coffey or I have led on.

The prompt, on this occasion, has been the chance to give a presentation at a School of Healthcare Sciences research seminar taking place this afternoon. For anyone interested, here is the PowerPoint I used. I opened with some general comments on the need for mental health research, and on the funding landscape. I then had some things to say about theory, design and methods. Many of the individual slides have hyperlinks to green open access publications:

Public Uni

After finishing work next Thursday (October 15th 2015) I’ll be heading off to Chapter to take part in the 7th Public Uni. At Public Uni, which is organised by Marco Hauptmeier in the Cardiff Business School, academics get a ten minute opportunity to present their research to an assembled audience. I gather there is some retiring to the bar at some point in the evening, which seems very sensible.

Here’s the flyer for next week’s event: and what an eclectic bunch us five speakers are! In my slot the aim is to compress a history of mental health care, and a summary of where we are now, into 600 seconds of talking. What fun! For a taster of what I’m planning to say, here’s my summary:

Changing landscapeUntil the middle of the last century most formal mental health care was provided in hospitals. This changed with the emergence of community care. Dr Ben Hannigan, Reader in Mental Health Nursing in the School of Healthcare Sciences, explains how this change came about and discusses the people, policies and practices found within the system now.

Critical junctures goes green

CJIn a series of earlier posts on this site (here and here), and in a piece for the LSE’s Impact Blog here, I wrote about Nicola Evans‘ and my article, ‘Critical junctures in health and social care: service user experiences, work and system connections’. This is published in the journal Social Theory & Health, and the behind-the-paywall link to the full text can be found here. Now that 18 months has passed since the article first appeared online, Palgrave’s copyright rules allow a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit, green open access version of the full text to be made publicly available. So, for a free copy of the paper downloadable from Cardiff University’s ORCA repository the link to follow is this:

Hannigan B. and Evans N. (2013) Critical junctures in health and social care: service user experiences, work and system connections. Social Theory & Health 11 (4) 428-444

The paper draws on data from Nicola’s PhD, ‘Exploring the contribution of safe uncertainty in facilitating change‘, and from my post-doctoral study of crisis resolution and home treatment services, ‘Mental health services in transition‘. For a reminder of what the paper is about, here’s the abstract in full:

This article makes an original contribution through the revitalisation, refinement and exemplification of the idea of the ‘critical juncture’. In the health and illness context, a critical juncture is a temporally bounded sequence of events and interactions which alters, significantly and in a lasting way, both the experience of the person most directly affected and the caring work which is done. It is a punctuating moment initiating or embedded within a longer trajectory and is characterised by uncertainty. As contingencies come to the fore, individual actions have a higher-than-usual chance of affecting future, enduring, arrangements. These ideas we illustrate with detailed qualitative data relating to one individual’s journey through an interconnected system of mental health care. We then draw on observations made in a second study, concerned with the improvement of mental health services, to show how micro-level critical junctures can be purposefully used to introduce instability at the meso-level in the pursuit of larger organisational change. In addition to demonstrating why scholars and practitioners should pay closer attention to understanding and responding to critical junctures we are, therefore, also able to demonstrate how their emergence and impact can be examined vertically, as well as horizontally.