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Thoughts from the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing (Impact Factor: 2.033).

Researchers, from both the academic community (University of Nottingham and Swansea University) and healthcare settings (Langdon Hospital, Dawlish, and Shannon Clinic Regional Secure Unit, Belfast), explored the experiences of parents with an adult son or daughter receiving care within adult forensic mental health services. This study was grounded in the need to acknowledge and include family members in mental health care. This need has been documented, encouraged and even enshrined in law by governments in several countries.

Seven in ten potentially eligible parents made contact with the researchers to be interviewed. Interviews were guided by a semi-structured interview framework and varied from 50 to 90 minutes. Interviews were transcripted and analysed employing a qualitative design, noting comments and emerging themes. Then, commonality and difference were noted, and connections between themes were made to produce larger, superordinate categories.

Three main themes were detected:

  • THEME 1: ‘Something’s not right’, the onset of mental distress
  • THEME 2: ‘It’s a terrible battle’, relating with professionals
  • THEME 3: ‘A very sad fact of life’, caring with no end in sight

In a nutshell, these findings demonstrate that being a parent carer to a son/daughter living in a forensic mental health setting is complex and challenging.

From the parents’ perspective, staff and services need to become more ‘carer aware’. This includes acknowledging the needs of the parents and forging warm, respectful, and constructive relationships with family members.

Any suggested approach?

  • The most effective approach may be for services to enact a coproduction agenda with both service users and carers.
  • Parents welcomed the opportunity to talk about their experiences. Reaching out to parents through taking their views seriously, providing them with information and establishing spaces where forensic carers can support one another could prove useful.


The authors stated that the existing gulf between policy, intent / guidance, and actual service delivery must be addressed if parents are to be properly supported and are to have meaningful and productive relationships with secure mental health services.


The EU-VIORMED study is related to this theoretical framework, acknowledging that forensic psychiatry spans a challenging physical and ethical space between the needs and rights of patients, the public and the criminal justice system, and between medical treatment and public protection. The EU-VIORMED project supports the harmonization of forensic psychiatric care pathways and treatment patterns across Europe in order to improve the quality of forensic psychiatric care across member states.  



The article full text is available at:


Finlay-Carruthers G, Davies J, Ferguson J, Browne K. Taking parents seriously: The experiences of parents with a son or daughter in adult medium secure forensic mental health care. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing (2018) 27, 1535–1545. doi: 10.1111/inm.12455

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