Our clinical nursing articles aim to inform and educate nurse practitioners and students. This is achieved through the publication of peer-reviewed, evidence-based, relevant and topical articles.
Why you should read this article: • To understand the experiences of children and young people with mental health issues, particularly those in general children’s wards • To identify areas for improvement in children’s nurses’ knowledge about the care of children and young people with mental health issues • To consider strategies for supporting children’s nursing students with caring for children and young people with mental health issues Background Over the past 20 years, the number of children and young people with mental health issues has increased. During their clinical placements, children’s nursing students often encounter such service users, as well as mothers with mental health issues such as postnatal depression. Many of these students have reported feeling inadequately prepared to meet the needs of these service users. Aim To evaluate a service user-led workshop to improve the knowledge and confidence of children’s nursing students in caring for children and young people with mental health issues. Method One university in the south of England ran an interactive workshop as part of a final-year module for BSc and MSc children’s nursing students. The workshop was facilitated by service users who had experienced mental health issues. Questionnaires were administered before and after the workshop to collect data from students who attended, then quantitative and qualitative analyses of the data were conducted. Findings This study found that children’s nursing students gained knowledge and confidence in caring for children and young people with mental health issues after attending the workshop. Four themes were identified from the pre-questionnaire data: fear and anxiety; boundaries; mixed experiences; and learning on the job. The themes of boundaries and learning on the job were identified again in the post-questionnaire data, as well as the additional themes of ‘being with, rather than doing’ and ‘further knowledge’. Conclusion Service user involvement is an essential aspect of nurse education due to its positive and motivating effects on students. Future research could explore the optimal type of service user input required at different stages of nurse education, to ensure that it enhances the development of students’ knowledge and confidence.
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