​How to build rapport with mental health service users

Recruitment partner Search Consultancy have provided advice on how to build rapport with mental health services


how to build rapport on mental health

When working in any health and social care role, but particularly within mental health services, building rapport is essential. Involving service users when developing and evaluating mental health support is highly beneficial to all, and can help establish the delivery of additional concepts that may not otherwise have been considered.

We spoke to several Search Health and Social Care nurses, to find out how they create a safe and meaningful space for service users to engage with their mental health service delivery.

The importance of building up relationships

Ensuring that service users feel involved with their own mental health care, and inviting them to help shape it in a meaningful way, will make a progressive relationship easier for everyone involved. Talking and working together with patients has a lasting impact, and will help create an overall positive experience for all.

Building up rapport so it is possible to involve mental health service users in this way, is recognised as a crucial part of the job. When patients are supported and communicated with, and asked to help direct the support they receive, many nurses find that their overall response to care improves. Service users gain confidence and feel like they have collaborated on the direction of their mental health support, rather than being excluded from the conversation.

Communication creates collaboration

Being a mental heath professional demands good communication skills and a lot of patience. Creating an open patient dialogue is essential when it comes to working successfully with service users as a care provider, but building a trusted rapport goes much deeper than just a few exchanged words, as our Search mental health nurses explain.

1) Body Language

“Communication is the key,” said one Search mental health nurse that we spoke to. “You can use either verbal or non verbal to assess a patient’s mental health.”

Working with patients and making them feel reassured in difficult situations is more than knowing the right thing to say. Body language, including tone of voice and eye contact, has a big part to play. Being aware of these unconscious signals and controlling them, such as appropriate eye contact to encourage without overly staring, is all part of therapeutic communication in an unpredictable environment.

2) Listening

As one Search mental health nurse commented; “The passion for the job is paramount. Listening with a positive mind set for support, and recovery of service users, is at the top of my agenda.”

Mental health professionals are often very busy, so their time with each service user can sometimes feel short. Working on active listening skills, such as nodding and smiling encouragingly, to show patients that they have undivided attention is vital for them to build rapport and trust. It also provides the service user with an opportunity to voice any concerns, an essential part of any mental health treatment.

3) Show you care

“I introduce myself, I called them by the name they want to be called by. Pay attention, show you care,” said our Search mental health nurse.

Good body language control and listening, combined with user collaboration on mental health services, can provide a caring atmosphere for those that need it. This environment breeds trust and helps users access, and understand, their own feelings. Something as simple as calling a user by their preferred nickname, or following up with a query after a session, can be a huge step towards showing care and prove to them that their best interests are at heart.

“Building a rapport with mental health service users requires compassion and patience. Search Health and Social Care has a dedicated team that supports our workers with all aspects of the job, and can advise them on how to establish an emotional connection with service users. For example, we’re currently delivering wellness packs to many of the companies we supply for the nurses and support workers to use and help build those relationships. For us, it’s an essential part of being a mental health practitioner, and one we’ll help with in any way we can,” says Chris Casey, Senior Divisional Manager.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Search Health and Social Care, perhaps to see what roles they have available, get in touch with us today.

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