Talk is Cheap: The Role of a Speech Pathologist in Mental Health Services

Talk is Cheap: The Role of a Speech Pathologist in Mental Health Services

It has been shown that language (e.g. understanding other people, or expressing yourself effectively), social interaction, and literacy disorders are strongly correlated with behavioural and emotional difficulties, and that often these communication disorders are undiagnosed and untreated.

For example, a high profile study in 1996 (Emerson and Enderby) found the prevalence of communication disorders in a mental health service to be 75%. Once in the psychiatric care and/or the criminal justice psychiatric system, people are expected to engage with a variety of interventions, but they are often unable to benefit fully from these without the necessary comprehension, expression and empathy skills.

Ms Woodward will recap the communication difficulties commonly associated with different mental health conditions, then briefly outline the benefits of Speech Pathology input within this field, both direct and indirect interventions.

A Speech Pathologist enables effective communication between patients and peers, staff, families, other professionals and the wider community by assessing, diagnosing and treating communication (speech, language and social interaction/communication) and swallowing difficulties/disorders and providing advice and training to other staff to ensure that the patients’ environment is modified in order maximise effective communication. Input is therefore a combination of direct work with patients, resource making (e.g. supporting written information visually), and liaison/training with other professionals to ensure effective communication throughout the patients’ care, thereby enhancing good practice throughout the service.

This has an impact on the individual, their community, and the efficacy of their rehabilitation, therefore with implications for national policy of healthcare.

Ms Mary Woodward, Specialist Speech Pathologist, Concord Centre for Mental Health will present at the:

13th International Mental Health Conference, "Positive Change - Investing in Mental Health"  6th to the 8th of August 2012, on the Gold Coast. 

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