Ethical Issues in Mental Health Nursing

  • Grahame SmithEmail author


This chapter explores mental health nursing practice within an ethics context. It teases out the ethical challenges that mental health nurses can face on a daily basis. A short case-study highlights potential solutions to those challenges.

For mental health nurses having the power to control and being expected to control people diagnosed with a mental disorder can be morally distressing, especially where situations do not always have clear outcomes. The case-study part of the chapter will consider how in these difficult circumstances mental health nurses can control and potentially restrict service user freedoms in a way that reduces moral distress and is beneficent and sensitive. A challenge for the contemporary mental health nurse is to know how to wield this power in a way that acknowledges their societal responsibilities while at the same time respecting the rights of the individuals they are required to control. It is important to recognise that restricting freedoms through the use of sanctioned coercion can be a good thing, however this is dependent on coercion being used by the mental health nurse in a way that is sensitive to the needs of the mental health service user.


Mental health nursing Coercion Ethical reasoning Values-based practice Expert practice Emotional intelligence 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nursing and Allied HealthLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

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