Providing optimal care for mental health service users

Research carried out by the University of Huddersfield and partners is helping to ensure that mental health service users receive the optimal outcomes from the medication they are prescribed. The research focuses on three key areas: skills and knowledge acquisition for mental health nurses, safety and the implementation of best practice.

An example of this approach is the administration of medicines. Mental health nurses (MHNs) have to deal with complex issues including the interaction of one drug with another, the existing physical health of the service user and managing any possible adverse reactions to medicines. The outcomes of this research aim to provide MHNs with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide optimal care.

The Medicines with Respect Project

In partnership with the South West Yorkshire NHS Trust, the University of Huddersfield has further developed a guide to best practice for use by mental health nurses locally. The Medicines with Respect Project addressed the crucial role that the administration of medicines has on the wellbeing of service users. This competency framework assesses the MHNs’ performance when administering drugs in terms of their knowledge, skill and involvement of the service user. Focus groups held with nurses revealed that the competency framework was well received and prompted further suggestions for improvement, including the rigorous assessment of nurses administering medicines.

Holistic approach

Future research developed in partnership with Swansea University will look at the prevention of adverse drug reactions for service users who are prescribed medication. Nurses are encouraged to take a holistic approach to mental and physical health, considering the therapeutic outcomes and managing the risks.

Brand manager medication image

A balancing act

It is recognised that the outcomes of this research need to be manageable in the day to day working practices of mental health nurses. Lack of resources in the NHS is a topical issue and any additional demands need to be adapted to help both the nurses and the service users.


Future research implementation will continue to look at working across contexts in primary and secondary healthcare and networking with a wide range of stakeholders including nursing and pharmacy colleagues with an increased emphasis on the involvement of service users. Involving service users will help to find out more about their experiences and how they feel about the potential risks and benefits of the medication available.

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