Principles of Effective Communication

How communication works in mental health: A focus on principles and barriers in communication

According to Furnes et al. (2018), effective communication is integral to the realisation of quality patient care. Effective communication in mental healthcare settings requires a nurse to understand the experiences expressed by a patient. The nurse should communicate to patients together with their guardians with moral accountability, empathy, and sensitivity (O'Hagan et al. 2014). Additionally, nurses should possess the ability communicate with people of different backgrounds with diverse personalities. For mental health to achieve effective communication, they should understand and apply the following principles of communication.

Communication is bidirectional. Nursing in mental health care can be seen as an interaction whereby the nurse becomes a receiver and a sender which should also be the case for the patient (Kourkouta and Papathanasiou 2014). Therefore, nurses should have the ability to listen to the patients’ needs and concerns and clearly respond to these needs in a way that the patient understands.

Nurses should use both verbal and non-verbal communication. Mental health nurses should ensure there is an agreement between their verbal and non-verbal messages and patients consider both forms when decoding messages (Chan et al. 2016). Active listening is an integral part of communication. Mental health nurses should pay attention to not only verbal but also non-verbal messages expressed by the patient in order to accurately assess the situation. Compassion is important when nurses are asking questions and when providing information so that the patients feel accepted, valued and respected (Davis Boykins 2014). The mental health professional should have the ability to express genuine concern for patient’s care, which promotes the quality of their relationship with patients.


In mental health settings, effective communication has not always been attained with the major barrier being the prejudice that nurses have against psychiatric patients (Happell and Gaskin 2013). Many nurses fear psychiatric patients, which can be seen as a stereotypical fear for mental health patients. On the other hand, nurses encounter diverse emotions when caring for patients, which hinder effective communication (Furnes et al. 2018). Caring for patients with mental illnesses is deemed among the most challenging interpersonal relationship in that at times nurses are not able to control their emotional responses in the face of patients with high levels of aggression (Swain and Gale 2014). Gender differences, colloquial language, and cultural differences negatively affect the effectiveness of communication in mental health settings. Chan et al. (2016) asserts that understanding the patient’s problems is crucial to establishing good verbal communication; thus, failure to understand a patient’s colloquial language results in communication barriers. In addition, patients are less acceptant of nurses with different cultures and languages, from theirs, which hinders effective patient-nurse communication (Chan et al. 2016). In light of these barriers to effective communication, mental health nurses should be provided with more information on patients’ language, culture, beliefs, customs, and expected behaviours so they can communicate without prejudice and pre-judgment.

Reflection on Harvard referencing

Initially, I did not understand the concept of referencing but I have learnt that referencing is a way of acknowledging the works of others which is attained through citations and a list of references at the end of my work. When using direct quotations and specific ideas, I have learnt that I should provide the surname of the author, year of publication, and the page number. However, I only include the author’s surname and year when I am not referring to a specific idea. Additionally, I have learnt that if I name the author in my text I should provide the year or the year and page number depending on whether it is a specific idea or not. I have learnt it is best to paraphrase texts based on my understanding and credit the source in order to lower plagiarism score. The elements of a reference should include author, year of publication, title of article, publication title, place of publication, publisher, edition or volume information, page span, and the URL or web address. Sources should be alphabetically arranged in the reference list.

Reflection on time planning

At times I have quite a number of responsibilities thus I tend to wait until the last minute to complete my assignments but for most of them I complete on time. The last time I waited until the last minute I had challenges uploading the assignment and almost missed the deadline. I realised I was not managing my time well and embarked on actions to improve time planning. I resolved to completing assignments the soonest time possible after they are assigned. For this assignment, I started research and laying an outline the following day after it was assigned. This gave me enough time to research, write, and proofread thus improving the quality of the final submission. I have also seen the benefits of allocating time to all daily activities. I also ensure I complete all my class work during the week. I stopped procrastinating after seeing how severe the consequences could be. Time planning has given me some type of schedule to follow.

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Chan, A., Purcell, A. and Power, E., 2016. A systematic review of assessment and intervention strategies for effective clinical communication in culturally and linguistically diverse students. Medical education, 50(9), pp.898-911.

Davis Boykins, A., 2014. Core communication competencies in patient-centered care. ABNF Journal, 25(2).

Furnes, M., Kvaal, K.S. and Høye, S., 2018. Communication in mental health nursing-Bachelor Students' appraisal of a blended learning training programme-an exploratory study. BMC nursing, 17(1), p.20.

Happell, B. and Gaskin, C.J., 2013. The attitudes of undergraduate nursing students towards mental health nursing: a systematic review. Journal of clinical nursing, 22(1-2), pp.148-158.

Kourkouta, L. and Papathanasiou, I.V., 2014. Communication in nursing practice. Materia socio-medica, 26(1), p.65.

O'Hagan, S., Manias, E., Elder, C., Pill, J., Woodward‐Kron, R., McNamara, T., Webb, G. and McColl, G., 2014. What counts as effective communication in nursing? Evidence from nurse educators' and clinicians' feedback on nurse interactions with simulated patients. Journal of advanced nursing, 70(6), pp.1344-1355.

Swain, N. and Gale, C., 2014. A communication skills intervention for community healthcare workers reduces perceived patient aggression: A pretest-postest study. International journal of nursing studies, 51(9), pp.1241-1245.

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