5 Best Methods to Increase Patient Engagement in Mental Health

Though patient engagement in mental health is crucial to improve patient outcomes, it is not easy to achieve. According to a report by the government, one in three people with a severe mental illness in England will drop out of treatment within 12 months. The dropout rate is even higher for some specific conditions, such as eating disorders (50%) and personality disorders (40%).

We know that engaging individuals with severe mental health difficulties in ongoing treatment can be quite challenging. Additionally, poor patient engagement can have detrimental effects, such as worsening of symptoms, readmission to mental health facilities, and failure to fully experience the potential benefits of treatment. It is for that reason and to help you increase patient engagement that we are writing this article. Regardless of whether you choose the RESET model to do that, we want to equip healthcare providers with all the knowledge they need to make the best decisions for their patients. 

For clarity, patient engagement in mental health refers to the active participation of patients in their healthcare journey, where they are empowered, informed, and involved in making decisions about their health and well-being. Patients can take an active role in their care and collaborate with healthcare providers.

By promoting patient engagement in mental health settings, you can enhance treatment outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, and foster a collaborative therapeutic relationship that empowers people to actively participate in their own mental health care and recovery. 

Additionally, positive patient engagement is one way to tackle the revolving door problem, which refers to patients repeatedly returning to the same service with the same health issues.

With over 20 years of experience providing psychological services within the NHS and private sector, we at The RESET Health Group pride ourselves on increasing patient engagement through staff training and psychological services. 

At RESET, we believe that patients engage best when all these five methods are combined and tailored to each patient’s needs. Ours is a complex approach involving mind, body and environment that no one else offers out there. However, to get you started, we compiled a nice list of organisations that specialise in each one of these methods accompanied by the relevant links.

Therefore, this article will detail the 5 best methods to increase patient engagement and offer you relevant links to organisations that can help you, depending on your needs and budget:

  • Collaborative Treatment Planning
  • Patient Involvement and Patient Feedback
  • Therapeutic Alliance between providers and patients
  • Connecting patients with their community
  • Personalised treatment approach

Collaborative Treatment Planning increases patient engagement

Collaborative treatment planning plays a crucial role in enhancing patient engagement in their own mental health. By involving patients in the decision-making process, it empowers them and fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility for their own treatment. 

There are several ways to collaborate with patients in treatment planning. One way is through shared decision-making. The practice of engaging patients in selecting a certain treatment path puts patients in the middle of their own care. By doing so, patients may become more active in their care management and wellness goals. Shared decision-making gives patients a stake in their treatment and can ultimately improve care outcomes. 

Engaging in open and honest discussions regarding treatment options, their potential benefits, and possible risks and respecting patients’ preferences and values, allows them to actively participate in treatment decisions. 

A key element of collaborative treatment planning is psychoeducation. This means educating patients about their presentation, available treatment options, and expected outcomes. An effective way to collaborate with patients, Psychoeducation involves providing resources, materials, or referrals to support their understanding. 

As a healthcare provider, it is also important to encourage patients to ask questions to participate actively in learning about their mental health. After all, a patient cannot meaningfully engage in self-management activities if she is not familiar with her conditions, treatments, and other health issues.

Collaboration and involvement in their own mental health treatment empowers patients, respecting their autonomy, and recognizing their expertise in their own experiences. This promotes a sense of partnership between patients and healthcare providers, resulting in increased engagement and better treatment outcomes.

A good organisation working towards collaborative treatment planning within the NHS is Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT). They are an NHS initiative in England that provides evidence-based therapies for depression and anxiety focusing on treatment planning, active participation and informed decision-making. If you are a private healthcare provider, however, IAPT might not be for you. 

Patient Involvement and Patient Feedback are a gold mine to improve patient engagement

We know as well as the NHS that getting feedback from patients about their treatment and care can greatly enhance their engagement in mental health. Feedback from patients means that services are developed and delivered most effectively. When their voices are heard, healthcare providers can identify areas for enhancement. This commitment to ongoing improvement demonstrates to patients that their feedback is valued, encouraging them to remain engaged and provide further input. 

When patients are asked for feedback about their treatment experiences, it validates their perspectives and shows that their opinions matter. This validation fosters a sense of respect, encouraging patients to actively engage in their treatment.

Feedback sessions create opportunities for collaborative decision-making between patients and providers. Incorporating patient perspectives, preferences, and goals into treatment discussion, reinforces shared responsibility in the treatment process. 

Finally, actively seeking feedback fosters trust and a therapeutic alliance. Patients will feel more able and comfortable to express their thoughts and concerns, promoting a more effective treatment experience. 

Therapeutic Alliance between providers and patients creates a collaborative and empowering process

By now, I am sure you can see that the techniques discussed so far to increase patient engagement intertwine and overlap. 

Forming a therapeutic alliance between providers and patients plays a vital role in increasing patient engagement, and here are some approaches that can help establish an alliance:

  • Establish a safe and supportive environment: Create a welcoming and non-judgmental space where patients feel safe to express themselves without fear of stigma or criticism. 
  • Actively listen and empathise: Practice active listening by giving patients your full attention, demonstrating empathy, and seeking to understand their experiences.
  • Collaborative goal setting: Involve patients in setting treatment goals that align with their values, needs, and preferences. This increases patient ownership and engagement.
  • Shared-decision making: Involving patients in treatment decisions respects their autonomy. 

According to Frank and Gunderson, an alliance is one component of treatment relationships that has been examined empirically and has been described as the dynamic ability to work together in the interest of problem-solving, with three elements: goals, task and bond. 

Alliance is proven to be a chief predictor of successful outcomes in psychotherapy. A study of the working alliance among patients receiving treatment for schizophrenia found that individuals who were able to form a good alliance with their therapists within the first 6 months were more likely to stay in treatment and adhere to medications, and had a better outcome at 2 years.

A great source of information on the Therapeutic Alliance technique to increase patient engagement is the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), a professional membership organisation that provides resources, training, and support for counsellors and psychotherapists to enhance their skills in building therapeutic alliances with their patients. A renowned organisation, BACP emphasise the importance of trust, empathy, and collaboration. 

Connect patients with their community for sustainable change

Evidence shows that any behavioural and mental health patients aren’t just going to walk through your door, so you need to connect and engage with them outside of your organisation.

We need to connect patients with their community to reduce stigma as this remains a significant barrier that prevents many people from seeking support or continuing with treatment. By connecting patients with those in their community, it promotes understanding, empathy, and acceptance. 

Building connections within the community can provide social support and long-term support for mental health patients. Many people with mental health conditions may feel isolated or alienated, exacerbating their symptoms. 

Community connections can complement professional mental health treatment and enhance treatment outcomes. Connections serve as a valuable resource for ongoing encouragement, motivation, and reinforcement of treatment adherence. 

Overall, connecting patients with their community creates a supportive environment, facilitates access to resources, and promotes health education and emotional well-being. These factors contribute to increased patient engagement, leading to better health outcomes and a more active role in managing their health.

If you would like to focus on the community aspect of your patient’s treatment, there are various organisations to which you can refer your patients/clients such as Mind or Rethink Mental Illness

Personalised treatment approaches

One size does not fit all! Mental health is a complex and highly individualized aspect of human well-being. It encompasses a wide range of conditions, symptoms, experiences, and personal circumstances. Lack of individualised attention, treatment ineffectiveness, neglecting personal preferences, cultural insensitivity and disregarding patient autonomy can only have detrimental effects. 

Therefore, personalising treatment approaches is essential to increasing patient engagement. These include the already mentioned collaborative treatment planning, individualised assessments, as well as offering a range of evidence-based treatment options and discuss them with the patient, considering preferences, previous treatment, cultural factors, and co-occurring conditions. 

Essentially, adopting a person-centred (an approach to healthcare and social services that prioritizes the individual’s values, preferences, and needs. It recognizes that each person is unique and should be actively involved in decisions regarding their own care, treatment, and support) can help to increase patient engagement. 

The Anna Freud Centre is known for its commitment to personalised treatment planning and tailoring interventions to individuals’ needs. The centre is a leading mental health charity that focuses on providing specialised services for children, young people, and their families. 

Your next steps for choosing the best techniques to increase patient engagement

You came to this blog because you’re interested in increasing patient engagement in your mental health programme. You know that poor patient engagement can have detrimental effects, such as worsening of symptoms, readmission to mental health facilities, and failure to fully experience the potential benefits of treatment.

This blog has provided you with the 5 best methods to increase patient engagement i.e. Collaborative treatment planning, Patient involvement and feedback, Therapeutic alliance between providers and patients, Connecting patients with their community and Personalized treatment approach.

By using these methods, you can help patients to take an active role in their own mental health care and recovery which can lead to improved treatment outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and a reduced risk of relapse.

It is because we believe that you should combine all five of the methods mentioned in this blog that we created the RESET model, a unique approach combining mental health with somatic interventions as well as nutrition and community building. At RESET, we specialise in increasing patient engagement whilst reducing costs. 

As keen as we are to improve patient outcomes, not all services are ready for a radical change be it for cultural reasons, tight budgets, timing or scepticism which is why this blog offered you links to other organisations which focus on each of these methods more specifically. However, if you are ready for a radical change that improves patient outcomes whilst reducing costs, feel free to request a quote

If you have any questions on how to increase patient engagement, don’t hesitate to e-mail us at hello@theresethealthgroup.com

To learn more about an integrated approach to mental health, read this blog written by one of our expert team members.

Msc Saiyuri Naidu is a Senior Assistant Psychologist at the RESET Health Group and an MSc Clinical Psychology Graduate with a special interest in trauma and how this can affect an individual’s mind and body. 

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