Proposed changes to the Mental Health Act (MHA) legislation in England and Wales have been identified as having significant impact upon both mental health service delivery and professional roles. Key issues being identified for both service delivery and professionals are the creation of approved mental health professionals (AMHP), increased demand upon community services and a potential negative impact upon the therapeutic relationship. Mental health nurses in particular have expressed their concerns, through their professional bodies, regarding the impact of the proposed MHA changes upon the therapeutic relationship. The aim of this article is to present findings from recently conducted research that explores experiences and perceptions of approved social workers (ASWs) regarding the impact of invoking the MHA upon the therapeutic relationship. These findings inform wider mental health nursing practice of essential skills and knowledge to protect and potentially enhance the therapeutic relationship while invoking MHA legislation. A questionnaire was distributed to ASWs working within the Trent region. The questionnaire included both closed and open questions inviting respondents to expand upon their experiences with the brief initial findings being earlier published. Semi-structured interviews with eight invited respondents to develop their responses were undertaken enabling an approach that was both conversational and emergent.
Hurley, J & Linsley, P 2006, 'Proposed changes to the Mental Health Act of England and Wales: research indicating future educational and training needs for mental health nurses', Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 48-54.
The definitive version is available at www3.interscience.wiley.com, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2850.2006.00911.x