Disclosure of Mental Health Symptoms: A Concept Analysis

Friday, 28 July 2017

Tamar U. Rodney, MSN
School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA

Purpose: This is an analysis of the concept disclosue of mental health symptoms. The assessment of mental health symptoms is primarily dependent on the individual experiencing them sharing their experience of symptoms with a healthcare provider. The social consequences of revealing such symptoms are often negative and prevents early assessment and treatment provision for these individuals. Disclosure have been defined to capture “a telling of the unknown”. It has previously been defined in teh context of cancer (Sun & Knobf, 2008), HIV (Eustace & Ilagan, 2010), and as a general concept (Saiki & Lobo, 2011). However the disclosure of feelings, emotions and concerns during a mental health interview captures new meaning because of the potential impact of having shared that information with a nurse.

Methods: A computer search of the following databases was conducted to capture the meaning and processes of HIV disclosure among HIV-positive individuals:

PubMed, CINAHL and PSYCINFO. Only English language journals were used. Publication dates of the literature review ranged from 2006 to 2016. The following key

words were used: mental health symptoms, psychiatric symptoms, diagnosis, and disclosure. The Walker and Avant (2004) concept analysis model (Strategies for Theory Construction in Nursing, Pearson Prentice Hall, River, NJ, 2005) was used to guide the analysis process. The defining attributes to disclosure of information relevant to psychiatry and mental helath were explored as unique aspects to analysis of the concept.

Results:  The concept analysis revealed that mental health symptoms disclosure is a process that can have positive and negative implications for the individual. This dichotomy influences the time to disclosing these symptoms and is characterized by the following attributes: self-interpretation of changes in behavior and emotions, re-experiencing symptoms, vulnerability, trust, timing, fear, expectation of change.

Conclusion: The exploration of this concept highlights the differential experiences that needs to be considered when assessing individuals with mental health concerns. The approach to mental health assessment should reflect a process of non-judgmental inquiry. The subsequent implications include the need to develop approaches that protect individual and encourage an environment receptive to early disclosure of symptoms to allow for timely treatment planning.