Relapse and readmission in mental health is relatively common and occurs as a result of various factors. Acknowledging the role of mental health services in preventing this readmission is vital for appropriate programmes to be developed and implemented, which will adequately address the needs of the mental health care service users. Some studies estimate that between 40% and 50% of psychiatric in-patients will be readmitted to a facility within one year of being discharged (AHRQ, 2014:1; Rieke et al., 2015:1). While the factors that contribute to readmission have been explored to some extent, knowledge about the role of mental health care services in preventing readmission is limited, particularly in South Africa.
The goal of the study was to explore and describe the experiences of readmitted mental health care service users a private in-patient treatment facility in Gauteng. A qualitative research approach was used in this study. Applied research was conducted and an exploratory research purpose provided the researcher with the opportunity to collect data and develop a deeper understanding of a concept that had not been explored previously (Fouché & De Vos, 2011:95; Rubin & Babbie, 2010:41). A descriptive research purpose was also relevant. The research design that was utilised in this study was the phenomenological research design. Semi-structured one-on-one interviews were used.
The findings relate to the following possible factors that contribute to readmission: experiences of readmitted mental health service users, including experiencing events as a set-back; the role of psychiatric medication in relapse and recovery; and a lack of support. Participants also indicated that commitment to their recovery is an important part of their experience and poor use of their time is a possible contributor to readmission. In addition, the participants shared their feelings about readmission as a normal part of recovery, but also shared negative emotions, such as shame. The role of programmes and mental health care facilities and how they can assist the patients was also explored.
Following interpretation of the reported experiences, recommendations were made for networks to be established, for ongoing treatment plans post-discharge to be implemented being required, and for increased promotion of mental health. Recommendations were also made for policies to be more inclusive of ongoing care and treatment in the mental health space.
The goal and the objectives of the research study were met, but continued research is needed in terms of the design and implementation of programmes for readmitted service users, the follow-up needs of discharged patients, and the experiences of those in public mental health services.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2019.