Mental Health Nursing

open access articles on mental health nursing



  • Communication is the basic element of human interactions that allows people to establish, maintain and improve contacts with others.
  • Nursing is a communicative intervention and is founded on effective communication.
  • The word communication originates from ‘communis’, a Greek word, meaning ‘to make common’.
  • It is the transmission and receiving information, feelings and or attitudes with the overall purpose of having understood producing a response.


  • "Communication is a means of persuasion to influence the other so that the desired effect is achieved.'Aristotle
  • Communication is “a process by which two or more people exchange ideas, facts, feelings or impressions in ways that each gains a ‘common understanding’ of meaning, intent and use of a message.” Paul Leagens

The communication process

It has the following main components:

  1. Sender (source)
  2. Message (content)
  3. Channel (s) (medium)
  4. Receiver (audience)
  5. Feedback (effect)

Major Dimensions of Communication

  1. Content (what type of things are communicated)
  2. Source (by whom)
  3. Form (in which form)
  4. Channel (through which medium)
  5. Destination/Receiver (to whom)

1. Sender

  • The sender (communicator) is the originator of the message.
  • Sender formulates, encodes and transmits the information which he/she wants to communicate.
  • The impact of the message will depend on sender's communication skill, social status (authority), knowledge, attitude and prestige in the community.

2. Message

  • A message is the information/desired behaviour in physical form which the communicator transmits to his audience to receive, understand, accept and act upon.
  • The message may be in the form of words, pictures or signs.
  • Components of message are:
    • Message code-any group of symbols that can be structured in a way that is meaningful to same person, eg., language.
    • Message content the material in the message i.e., selected by the source to express his purpose.
    • Message treatment i.e, decisions which the communication source makes in selecting, arranging both codes and contents.
  • A good message must be:
    • In line with the objectives
    • Meaningful
    • Based on felt needs
    • Clear and understandable
    • Specific and accurate
    • Timely and adequate
    • Fitting the audience
    • Interesting
    • Culturally and socially appropriate

3. Channels of Communication

  • By channel is implied the “physical bridge” or the media of communication between sender and the receiver.
  • Channels can be:
    • Interpersonal (face to face communication) may be verbal or non-verbal, or
    • Mass media TV, radio, printed media etc.
  • Every channel of communication has its advantages and limitations.
  • The proper selection and use of channels results in successful communication.

4. Reciever

  • Who receives messages from the sender, decoding, interprets the meaning and giving feedback.

5. Feedback

  • It is the flow of information from receiver to the sender, the reaction to the message.

Theories of communication

  • Model 1 Communication can be described also as processes of information transmission governed by three levels of semiotic rules
    1. Syntactic (formal properties of signs and symbols)
    2. Pragmatic (concerned with the relations between signs/expressions and their users) and
    3. Ssemantic (study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent).
  • Model 2 Communication is information or content (e.g. a message in natural language) is sent in some form (as spoken language) from a sender/encoder to a destination/receiver/decoder.
  • Model 3 Theories of co-regulation describe communication as a creative and dynamic continuous process, rather than a discrete exchange of information.

Types of Communication

  • One-way Communiaction (didactic) the flow of communication is “one-way” from the communicator to the receiver. Eg. Lecture method.
  • Advantages
    • Considerable faster than two-way communication
    • Appears neat and efficient to an outsider observer.
    • Sender is more psychologically comfortable
    • Plan-fullness, order, systemization are associated with.
  • Disadvantages
    • knowledge is imposed
    • Learning is authoritative
    • Little audience participation
    • No feedback
    • Little influence on human behaviour.
  • Two-way Communiaction (Socratic) both sender and receiver take part.
    • The process of learning is active and democratic.
    • It is more likely to influence behaviour than one-way communication

Mode of Communication

  • Verbal communication
  • Non-verbal communication

Verbal Communication

  • the traditional way of communication byf mouth.
  • Language is the chief vehicle of communication.
  • "Effective verbal communication techniques" include
    • Clarity and brevity
    •  Vocabulary
    • Denotative and connotative meaning
    • Pacing
    • Timing and relevance
    • Humour
  • Verbal communication also involves written words.

Non-verbal communication

  • communication occur otherthan words.
  • facial expression, gesture, touch and vocal tone


  • a comment on the literal content and nature of the relationship between the person involved.
  • It is the message that conveys the sender’ attitudes, feelings and intentions towards listener; may be verbal or non-verbal.

 Principles of communication

  • Communication should have objective and purpose.
  • Should be appropriate to situation.
  • Systematic analysis of the message, i.e., the idea, the thought to be communicated, so that one is clear about it.
  • Selection and determination of appropriate language and medium of communication according to its purpose.
  • Organizational climate, including appropriate timing and physical setting to convey the desired meaning of the communication.
  • Consultation with others for planning of communication; involves special preparation.
  • Message should convey something of value to the receiver in the light of his needs and interests.
  • The communication action following a communication is important in effective communication as this speaks more than his/her words.
  • The sender has to understand the receivers attitude and reaction by careful, alert and proper listening to ensure that the desired meaning of the message has been comprehended by the receiver.
  • Credibility is very important.
  • Communication programme should make use of existing facilities to the great extent possible and should avoid challenging them unnecessarily.

Factors influencing communication

  • Perceptions
  • Values
  • Emotions
  • Socio-cultural background
  • Knowledge
  • Role and relationships
  • Environment
  • Space and territoriality

Barriers of communication

  • Physical/environmental barriers
  • Personal barriers
  • Physiological barriers
  • Psychological barriers
  • Cultural barriers
  • Background barriers

Importance of Communication in Nursing

  • A critical component of nursing practice
  • Good communication
    • Generate trust between nurse and clients.
    •   Provides professional satisfaction.
    •  Is a means for bringing about change, i.e. nurse listens, speaks and acts to negotiate changes that promotes client’s well-being.
    •  Is the foundation of the relationship between the nurse and other members of the health team.
    •  Helps to promote managerial efficiency.
    •  Provides basis for leadership action.
    •  Provides means of co-ordination.


  • Communication is really an important aspect of our life.
  • Every one communicate with others but for effective, productive and interesting communication, proper communication skill has to be developed.


  1. Aggarwal JC. Essentials of Educational Technology: Teaching Learning. Delhi:Vikas publisher; 1996.

  2. Basavanthappa BT. Nursing Administration. New Delhi:JAYPEE;2005

  3. Neeraja KP. Textbook of Nursing Education. Delhi: Jaypee Brothers; 2005.

  4. Park K. Preventive and Social Medicine. 18th ed. Jabalpur: Banarsidas Bhanot; 2005.

  5. Kumar KL. Educational Technology. New Delhi: New Age International (P) Limited; 1996.

This page was last updated on: 08/12/2020