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Nurses are assessing mothers with mental health issues despite lack of guidance and formal training
Date:5/6/2009

Researchers have raised serious concerns about the lack of guidance and training provided for nurses involved in assessing the parenting capacity of mothers with serious mental illnesses.

Writing in the May issue of the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, the team have highlighted the need for an audit of current UK services and greater links between health and social care professionals.

But they point out that the basic issues they explored are pertinent to health care systems worldwide.

"There is evidence that social workers responsible for child protection rely heavily on mental health parenting assessments if the mother is receiving psychiatric care" explains Sarah Rutherford from the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

"These assessments have major implications as they can lead to mothers being separated from their children. Despite this, mental health nurses receive no formal training for this difficult role and there is little information available about how these assessments are being carried out and to what standard.

"Guidance issued by the UK Department of Health on assessing children in need stresses that mental health professionals have a key role to play in determining whether adults are able to care for their children. However, there is no specific guidance on how these assessments should be carried out."

Ms Rutherford, who is a registered mental health nurse and now works as a Practice Trainer adds: "Although our research focused on the situation in the UK, the issues that our paper raises are global concerns as changes in the care and treatment of those with mental illness have led to more women demanding the right to raise their children."

The team's review of current policies and almost 30 social work, medical and nursing studies shows that women with serious mental illness are increasingly involved in p
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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