Keeping Clients Participating is a Priority
Engagement is an important part of the therapeutic process; without engagement, it can be difficult to make progress on client goals. Unfortunately, individuals with mental health concerns or illness are notoriously difficult to engage with and are often reluctant to seek care, leading to a high drop-out rate and poor outcomes.
Low engagement rates make it difficult for healthcare providers to facilitate positive change in their clients. In fact, up to half of clients with mental illness reported not to have received care in the past year.
This trend is especially prevalent among young clients. Out of the clients who complete an assessment, only 10% between the ages of 18-24 proceed with treatment, while 40% of those aged 65 and above move forward.
Females have a higher completion rate in assessments (75% for females compared to 25% for males). However, both genders show a similar likelihood to continue treatment (25% for both females and 20% for males).
As a mental health provider, it’s essential to understand what factors affect client engagement so that you can create the best conditions for successful treatment. In this blog article, we will explore the factors affecting engagement rates and offer some strategies to help increase client engagement in mental health treatment.
Factors Affecting Client Engagement
Engaging clients in mental health services is essential to the success of any treatment plan. However, there are a variety of factors that affect client engagement and treatment completion. Understanding and addressing these issues can improve engagement rates, promote successful treatment outcomes, and enhance the overall well-being of the client.
Poor Treatment Results
One of the most significant reasons for low engagement rates is when a client feels like the treatment is not effective. Most clients commit to treatment with the expectation of improvement in their condition. If the expected results do not materialize, clients are more likely to lose their motivation and disengage from the treatment.
This could be due to a variety of reasons such as a lack of progress, not feeling heard or understood, or not feeling like the treatment is tailored to their specific needs. As a mental health provider, it’s important to regularly check in with clients to ensure that the treatment is working for them. If it’s not, adjustments can be made to ensure that the client is receiving the care they need.
Feelings of Mistrust or Coercion
The therapeutic relationship should be built on trust, and clients themselves should be allowed to set their goals. Clients may not be comfortable discussing their struggles with someone in authority, particularly if there is a power differential with the therapist.
Mental health providers must try to make the therapy environment as egalitarian as possible and work hard to build trust with their clients. Clients who feel coerced to engage in therapy may struggle with mental health treatment and experience resentment or feelings of mistrust.
Lack of Accessibility
Inadequate accessibility to treatment can also significantly impact the engagement rates of clients in mental health treatment. Clients may disengage if they find the treatment too difficult to access. Accessibility could refer to many aspects, ranging from treatment difficulty to scheduling and affordability.
Providers must focus on minimizing clients’ barriers by providing various avenues of accessing treatment such as online therapy, mobile apps that promote mindfulness, and teletherapies.
Government organizations and non-profits such as Operation Come Home, The Affordable Therapy Network, and the Mental Health Commission of Canada offer financial assistance and access to affordable services.
Providers should also consider making their treatments financially accessible by having reduced fees or payments options that allow clients to pay in installments.
6 Strategies to Improve Client Engagement
Engagement is a crucial element of providing effective mental health services. An engaged client is more likely to remain in treatment, learn new skills for managing their mental health issues, and move towards achieving their treatment goals.
It’s important to have strategies in place to increase your clients’ engagement so that they get the most out of the treatment. Let’s explore 6 effective strategies for engaging clients to improve quality of care.
1. Clarify Objectives, Roles, and Expectations
Communicating objectives, roles, and expectations can increase client engagement. By doing so, the client understands the ins and outs of their treatment and feels a sense of control and ownership. Also, involving the client in decision-making promotes their involvement and can lead to better self-management of their condition.
The Therapeutic Alliance is a collaborative partnership between the therapist and client that leads to positive treatment outcomes. To ensure a strong alliance, providers need to establish mutually developed treatment SMART goals, align on treatment tasks, and create an emotional bond between the therapist and client. The client must feel heard and understood, as well as feel a sense of trust and comfort with the provider. This communication builds rapport and trust, facilitating a meaningful partnership.
2. Self-Management Skills
Providing a client with self-management skills can help greatly enhance their engagement in mental health treatment. The five key self-management skills include:
- Problem-solving: Identifying and implementing potential solutions for self-care and mental health challenges.
- Decision-making: Using reliable clinical information to make well-informed self-care choices for managing chronic illness daily.
- Resource-utilization: Finding and leveraging accessible resources to promote effective self-care and prevent relapse.
- Partnering with clients and providers: Establishing a relationship with healthcare professionals that encourages open and efficient communication.
- Taking action: Collaborating with clients and providers: Establishing a relationship with healthcare professionals that encourages open and efficient communication.
When clients are equipped with these skills, they become more involved in their treatment, leading to better outcomes.
3. Person-Centered Care
Person-centered care is an approach to healthcare that prioritizes addressing the individual’s immediate needs. Many barriers to treatment exist in clients’ lives, such as job loss, financial stress, and routine struggles. By addressing individuals’ immediate needs, healthcare providers can enhance engagement in treatment.
Providers who practice a person-centred approach address these immediate needs along with the clinical care. This approach allows clients to feel heard, understood and supported, which can inspire greater confidence and engagement in treatment. Addressing these barriers as specific components of clinical care can promote a sense of partnership between providers and clients and make the therapeutic process more effective.
4. Shared Decision-Making
Shared decision-making is a conversation between the provider and client that results in agreement about treatment. This approach promotes a collaborative partnership between the client and physician, allowing the client to feel like an integral part of the decision-making process.
That helps give them a sense of control and ownership in their treatment journey, leading to a greater willingness to engage actively in treatment. Adopting this approach can increase client satisfaction, improve health outcomes, and reduce client resistance to treatment.
5. Opportunities Peer Support
Offering opportunities for peer support is an effective strategy in enhancing the engagement of mental health clients and improving their overall well-being. Peer support programs provide individuals with a sense of shared experience, enabling them to connect with others having similar concerns.
By participating in these programs, clients experience a reduction in isolation and an increase in self-esteem and self-efficacy. Peer support options also assist with overcoming self-stigmatization, leading to greater receptivity to traditional forms of mental health treatment.
6. Leverage Technology
As a mental health provider, it is essential to have an effective strategy for engaging clients in their treatment plans. With the advancement of modern technology, leveraging tools such as automated appointment reminders, client portal, and telehealth appointments can lead to improved outcomes and more positive experiences for your clients.
Mental healthcare technology like EMHware can make managing and engaging with clients more efficient and effective. Referrals and other documentation can be sent electronically using our built-in tools, eliminating manual paperwork, faxing, or data entry. This gives your staff more time to spend on what matters most, providing great client care.
Schedule a demo today and learn how EMHware can help improve client engagement!