Perceptions of mental healthcare professionals regarding inpatient therapy programmes for adolescents in the Eastern Cape, South Africa
Objectives: The study aimed to explore and describe the perceptions of mental health professionals with experience working in psychiatric hospitals regarding inpatient therapy programmes for adolescents.
Methods: The study followed a qualitative, exploratory, descriptive and contextual design. The research population included various mental healthcare professionals with experience working at psychiatric hospitals in the Eastern Cape. Purposive sampling was utilised and semi-structured interviews were conducted. Tesch’s eight steps of data analysis were followed and Lincoln and Guba’s model of trustworthiness was utilised.
Results: Two main themes emerged from the research. The first considered the unique skills and contributions of mental healthcare professionals to an adolescent programme. The second theme acknowledged the need for adolescent therapy programmes to be holistically structured in order to be effective.
Conclusions: The findings showed that inter-professional collaboration is an important aspect of successful inpatient adolescent therapy programmes. Such programmes benefit from the involvement of a wide variety of professionals. However, professionals who are part of a multi-professional team need to be suitably skilled and prepared to meet the needs of the adolescent. Professionals working in therapy programmes for adolescents should have certain personal attributes that make them suitable for working with adolescents. An adolescent inpatient therapy programme requires a team leader or a coordinator to lead the programme to ensure its success. Continuous assessment of each adolescent is essential. Therapy should take place in an adolescent-friendly environment and should be structured yet flexible. The involvement of the adolescents’ families is critical, and the programme should be designed with the family in mind. Group therapy is a major component of an adolescent therapy programme and individual therapy is also an important aspect of the programme. Finally, adolescents should only take part in the programme for a short time to avoid institutionalisation.