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Staff Needs When Working in Secure Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Clark, Katherine MSc

doi: 10.1097/JFN.0b013e318283457f
Original Articles

ABSTRACT There is increasing recognition regarding the psychological impact of working in demanding healthcare settings. However, little empirical research has been conducted, especially within a child and adolescent setting. This study investigates the needs of staff working with adolescents in a secure forensic psychiatric environment. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 13 staff members within a secure forensic unit for adolescents with mental health problems. The interviews were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Participants encountered varying experiences, both positive and negative. The dominant themes identified from the analysis were risk of isolation, meaningful contact, openness, safety, control and structure, staff relationships, and complex task. Staff faced numerous challenges such as negotiating complex relationships with management, other staff, and the young people while in a complex working environment. Various levels of support are required to manage the challenges placed on them, including both individual and group support.

Author Affiliations: University of Southampton, United Kingdom.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

Correspondence: Katherine Clark, MSc. E-mail:

Received July 30, 2012; accepted for publication December 10, 2012.

© 2013 by the International Association of Forensic Nurses. All rights reserved.
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