Respect in Mental Health: Reconciling the Rhetorical Hyperbole with the Practical Reality

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Although there is a high degree of consensus in the existing literature regarding the importance of respect in mental health care, a realistic appraisal suggests that there is something of a disconnect between what is espoused in policy documents and what actually occurs in practice. As a result, this article seeks to explore and advance our understanding of the phenomenon of respect in mental health care and draws on real practice situations to illustrate this schism. To this end, the authors present three case studies that focus on the following: “use of seclusion,” “respecting professional boundaries,” and “horizontal workplace violence.” The authors advance the, perhaps for some, provocative argument that it is relatively easy to write/speak about respect, while the reality of communicating respect to others is more difficult, challenging, and makes significant demands on the individual psychiatric/mental health nurse.


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