Mental health nurses' and psychiatrists' views on addressing parenthood issues among service users

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Abstract

Mental health professionals (MHPs) are in a central position to provide support for mental health service users (MHSUs) in regard to parental needs, from preconception to caring for children. This study aims to examine whether mental health nurses and psychiatrists regard the issue of having children and being a parent as relevant to be considered in a clinical setting, how they describe the MHPs' roles and responsibilities in this regard, and to what extent they feel willing and able to fulfil these demands. A qualitative approach was undertaken by conducting four focus groups with 30 MHPs (15 nurses and 15 psychiatrists) within an inpatient mental health service in south Germany. We found that MHPs generally acknowledged the importance of parenting issues for psychiatric treatment. However, they assessed the talks between MHPs and MHSUs about parenting as less relevant in routine practice; the issue of the desire for children in particular was seen as generally not important. Addressing parenthood issues was restricted to mainly two areas: clarifying children's situations during inpatient treatment and considering medication issues among (potentially) pregnant service users. MHPs' focus on the adult service user, privacy, and historical issues were the main arguments against addressing parenthood issues.

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