District nurses' involvement in mental health: an exploratory survey

Soo Lee, Denise Knight
British Journal of Community Nursing 2006, 11 (4): 138-42
This article reports on a survey of district nurses' involvement in mental health interventions in one county. Seventy-nine questionnaires were sent and 46 were returned. Descriptive analysis was carried out using statistical software. The DNs reported encountering a wide range of mental health issues and interventions in practice: dementia, anxiety and depression featured highly. Over half (55%) of the respondents reported involvement in bereavement counselling, and 28% and 23% of respondents reported encountering anxiety management, and problem solving and alcohol advice respectively. A large proportion, however, reported no involvement in mental health interventions. Among the psychiatric professionals, district nurses tended to have most frequent contacts with social workers. GPs were the most likely person to whom DNs made referrals, followed by community psychiatric nurses. Despite the apparent awareness of the values of psychosocial interventions, DNs were equally influenced by the medical model of treatment. In order to realize the potential contribution of district nurses in mental health interventions, there is a need for primary care teams to foster a closer working relationship with mental health specialist services.

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