Working with consumers who hear voices: The experience of early career nurses in mental health services in Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 2019, 28 (2), pp. 605 - 615
Issue Date:
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© 2018 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc. Mental health consumers who hear voices frequently experience distress and express a desire to discuss their voice-hearing experience. Nurses do not regularly demonstrate a willingness to engage in such discussions. With the introduction of educational strategies that develop empathy and an understanding of voice-hearing experiences, it is anticipated that early career nurses will be able to translate such understanding into their professional nursing practice. To explore early career nurses’ understanding of providing care to mental health consumers who hear voices, a qualitative exploratory descriptive study was conducted in which nine early career Registered Nurses were interviewed regarding their experiences of caring for people who hear voices. Thematic analysis was employed to analyse the data and generate themes. Participants reported difficulty in developing relationships with consumers who hear voices, due to a workplace culture that was focussed on risk and lacking professional support. Nurses need specific education to develop the skills necessary to respond to consumers who hear voices and engage in dialogue that assists consumers to relate to the voices in a meaningful way. However, for this to succeed in practice, changes need to be supported by addressing the cultural barriers, such as risk-focussed environments, that prevent nurses implementing best practice.
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