The ward as emotional ecology: Adolescent experiences of managing mental health and distress in psychiatric inpatient settings

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Abstract

Previous research on young people's satisfaction of inpatient services has often relied on the responses of carers and relevant practitioners. It is difficult to ascertain to what extent such reporting accurately represents the satisfaction levels of young people, with emerging research suggesting wide discrepancies. As part of a wider study evaluating the effectiveness of a Supported Discharge Service (SDS) operating within South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, this paper examines how young people experience inpatient services, on a social and emotional level. Twenty young people, (10 SDS and 10 TAU) participated in a semi-structured visual-interview study to examine their experiences of admission, ward-life and treatment. A thematic decomposition analysis was conducted on the data and specific themes relevant to satisfaction and engagement with inpatient services was examined in-depth. These include a) Behavioural surveillance as care surrogate and b) Managing the delicate emotional ecology of the ward: openness, triggering, sterility and relational engagements. Finally, we explore some of the implications of these inpatient experiences for supported discharge services.

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