Mental health work in school health services and school nurses' involvement and attitudes, in a Norwegian context
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Clinical Nursing. 2017, 26 (23-24), 5044-5051. 10.1111/jocn.14004
Aims and objectives To explore school nurses’ experiences with and attitudes towards working with young people with mental health problem in the school health services. Background Worldwide, 10%–20% of children and adolescents are affected by mental health problems. When these occur during youth, they constitute a considerable burden and are one of the main causes of disability among adolescents. School nurses are at the forefront of care for children and adolescents, identifying pupils struggling with physical, mental, psychosocial or emotional issues. Design A qualitative, explorative study was performed based on open‐ended questions in a cross‐sectional study of 284 school nurses in Norway. Inclusion criteria were as follows: working as a school nurse in the school health services with children and adolescents between the ages of 11–18 years. A qualitative inductive content analysis was conducted. Results Three generic categories emerged: perception of their role and experiences with mental health: the school nurses acknowledge their important role in work with adolescents focusing on their mental health. Perception of their professional competence: the school nurses described a lack of confidence and unmet training needs concerning mental health problems. Experiences with collaboration: the school nurses requested more knowledge about inter‐ and multidisciplinary cooperation regarding follow‐up of pupils with mental health problems. Conclusions The school nurses lacked knowledge and confidence in respect of working with children and adolescents suffering from mental health problems. This may be a barrier to giving pupils adequate aid. Relevance to clinical practice Nurses need to acquire more knowledge about mental health problems among children and adolescents as this is a growing public health issue. Educational programmes for school nurses need to be revised to achieve this.