Communication Skills in Mental Health and Addiction

Task 1


The communication process is the transfer of information from the sender to the receiver by getting over the barriers that affect its transfer. In simple terms, communication is the exchange of information. There are different ways of communicating, some of the ways are verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication is when communication is done using voice and words. This can be done face to face or by talking verbally on phones. Non-verbal communication is when communication is made through gestures, texting on phones and writing letters. There are many elements of communication which are sender, message, encoding, channel, receiver, decoding and feedback. The sender is the person by whom the message is sent. The message is the data that is sent to the other person. Encoding is when the method of sending the data is decided. This can be done by looking at the type of situation or area the person is in. Channel is the source that the data is transferred through. This can be done by writing, verbally, through videos or gestures. Receiver is the person who retrieves the message. Decoding is when the receiver of the message tries to understand what the message is trying to convey. Feedback is the reply from the receiver to the sender that the message has been understood. Four key elements from above are discussed below. (Effective communication, n.d.)


The message could be an idea of the person that what the person is thinking about, it could be the way the persons attitude is or through signs and signals. The sender sends the message that they want to convey in a way which could be easily understood by the receiver.

An example from the case study is that the sender of the message was Amelia. The message was sent to Clara. The message which was sent was that Amelia did not want to go to visit the GP alone because she was insecure, she wanted to take her elder son with her.


Receiver is the person to whom the message is sent to. This person receives the message and tries to understand what the message is conveying. The receiver needs to understand the message in a way that what the sender is trying to convey is understood. The way that the receiver decodes the message depends on the type of relationship the sender has with the receiver and the understanding of the topic.

An example from the case study is that the receiver of the message was Clara. The message was completely understood by her that what the sender was trying to convey.  Amelia’s message was conveyed in the right way.


Channel is the method that the message is conveyed in. Different types of channels have their good sides and bad sides. Channel of communication should be chosen wisely so that the message is conveyed in the right way. If the wrong channel is chosen then the message will not be delivered in an appropriate way.

An example from the case study is that the channel of communication is verbal. Amelia conveys her message to Clara by talking to her. The right channel of communication was chosen because Clara understood the message.


Message can be sent through different modes of communication. It is the content that the sender wants to send to the receiver. Message is conveyed in different ways. In the case study, the message was sent verbally. Amelia talked to Clara and delivered her message.

An example from the case study is that the message which was sent by Amelia was that she guaranteed to be present in the next GPs session because she had been persuaded by the GP. Amelia wanted her son to go with her to the GP because she was not scared to go alone.


Messages are not always decoded by the receiver the way that the sender had meant it. This is why it is necessary for the person who is communicating to send their feedback to know if the message has been delivered the right way and is conveyed the way they wanted it to be. Barriers could arise anywhere in the process of communicating. The receiver not understanding the message in the right way it had been conveyed is a barrier. Some of the barriers of effective communication in the healthcare field are discussed below. (Communication barriers, n.d.)

Language barriers

Language could be a barrier in many ways while communicating. Even though communication is made using the same language between individuals, a barrier could be caused by using words that the other individual does not understand. As healthcare professionals, this mistake is more likely to occur while communicating with others. Words which are easy and simple for everyone to understand should be used when communicating with people who are not healthcare professionals. (Communication barriers, n.d.)

Physical barriers

Physical barriers can occur because of the environment the individuals are in. The sounds in the environment affects the way people communicate. If there are loud noises in the environment that the patients are in then it is hard for them to hear that what the health professionals are trying to say. Even though they do not hear that what has been said, they shake their heads to show that they have understood what has been said. (Ali, 2017)

Emotional barriers

The mental state of an individual has an impact on the way that the message sent by the sender has been understood by the receiver. If an individual is stressed about something, full attention to the message would not be given because they are concerned about something else more than the message. Anger is also a barrier in communication. When individuals are out of control, they say things which they can not take back even if they want to and they also misunderstand what others are saying to them. Individuals who are self-conscious and have less confidence in them may not find communicating with others enjoyable. (Communication barriers, n.d.)

Sometimes patients are shy to talk about their wellbeing to the healthcare professionals. This shyness of the patients is a barrier for an effective communication between the patients and the healthcare professionals. (Ali, 2017)


Language barriers

Barriers in language can be removed by using words that are easy to understand by the individuals who are not healthcare professionals. Healthcare professionals should refrain from using medical words which are hard to understand when speaking to patients or families of the patients. Reassurance should be made with individuals if they have understood all the information that has been passed on by the healthcare professionals before passing further information. The individuals should be given a chance to clarify their doubts for a better understanding on what has been said if it is not clear for them. (Communication barriers, n.d.)

Physical barriers

Physical barriers can be avoided by finding the suitable environment to communicate in. When communicating with patients in a noisy area, they would not be able to hear what has been said; especially if they also have hearing problems. Patients should be taken to an area which is quiet and if they use hearing aids, make sure that they are working properly. The patient should be asked if they are able to hear clearly and then convey the message that has to be said. Noisy areas affect the communication process between healthcare individuals and patients with dementia or other cognitive impairments. A suitable environment should be chosen to communicate with these patients so that the message is conveyed clearly. (Ali, 2017)

Emotional barriers

Emotional barriers can be avoided by talking to the patients in a suitable manner which would ease their anxiety or shyness. Healthcare professionals should make eye contact and use gestures while talking to the patients. Patients also resist asking questions because they are scared that they will be wasting the healthcare professionals time. It is important for the healthcare professionals to inform the patients that their wellbeing is important to the healthcare staff and the patients should ask questions if they want to know something. Health professionals should give directions in a suitable manner to the patients if anything has to be examined on the patients body. If healthcare professionals are dealing with clients who have addiction problems then the clients should not be judged or criticized by the professionals.  (Ali, 2017)

For example, if the client is an


addict, they should not be judged by the professionals on the amount of alcohol they consume.

Task 2


Individuals who have mental health problems find it hard to get better because they get discriminated and stigmatized by other people. Most of the time their situation worsens because of the discrimination that they have to face because of their illnesses. (Stigma and discrimination, n.d.)

There are different ways in which people are stigmatized. Three examples of stigma and discrimination are discussed below.


A person who has schizophrenia has difficulty in thinking clearly, controlling how they feel emotionally and they find it hard to differentiate between things which are real and which are not. (Peters, 2014)

There is a social stigma for individuals who have schizophrenia. Some people in the society think that an individual with schizophrenia has a split personality. This is not the right information that the society has. Some of them have a belief that individuals who have schizophrenia have violent and dangerous behaviours that would harm others. This is not true. Schizophrenic individuals need a proper way of treatment. The severity of their illness can be decreased through the way that they are being treated medically. (Peters, 2014)

Alcohol and drug addiction

The people who are alcohol and drug addicts have a low status in the society. Most of the time people have bad thoughts about them and their personalities. People neglect the addicts and do not want to be friends with them. Addicts hardly get jobs because the society thinks that they can not do any work.

Society thinks that addicts are a threat to the society and commit crimes. Addicts are humiliated by the society most of the time. People stigmatise addicts more than any other issues in the society. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are called by different names in the society, such as junkie. All these stigmas from the society causes the addicts to separate themselves from the society. Individuals with addictions are discriminated in public organizations, for example while they are getting justice. (New Zealand Drug Foundation submission on the mental health and addiction inquiry, 2018)

ADHD in children

This is a disorder which makes it hard for individuals with ADHD to fully focus on things and to plan things according to order. This leads them to be slow learners. Most of them have a low self-esteem because people have a stigma towards these children, people think that they are dumb and say rude things to them. People think that children with ADHD have zero focus towards things and can not succeed in life. This is not true because most of the children with ADHD are capable to focus on a few things such as the things that they are interested in, an example is watching videos. (Adams, 1999)


Mental health practitioners should have skills which would help them to identify stigma and discriminating behaviours towards the clients who have addiction problems. Three skills are identified and discussed below.


Stigma is there because of lack of knowledge. Mental health practitioners should have knowledge to help identify stigmatizing behaviours and discrimination. Practitioners should have a knowledge about their client’s addictions or problems regarding their health. Having knowledge will enable the practitioners to help the clients at an appropriate level without any stigma being created. Knowledge helps practitioners to know more about their client. The clients would be provided with the correct information and advice if the mental practitioner would have knowledge. Awareness for mental health can be created by the practitioners. This can be done in simple ways such as social media posts. The most effective way to create awareness is social media because there is a huge population using it. Giving others knowledge about mental would reduce discrimination and stigma. (Betton, 2013)


Empathy is a skill that an individual can gain through education. Practitioners should have empathy while communicating with clients. They will be conscious about how the client is feeling. When an individual practices empathy then that individual is able to understand the feeling of the other individual. Empathy will help practitioners identify the feeling of the client. If the practitioner will use empathy as a skill while communicating with the client then there won’t be any stigma or discrimination towards the client because the practitioner would be putting themself on the clients place and think that how is the client feeling. The practitioner would treat the client the way the practitioner would want to be treated. (Mousa, 2015)

If everyone else besides the practitioner also uses empathy while communicating with the people with mental health and addiction problems then there will be no discrimination and stigma towards them.

Communication skills

Practitioners should have communication skills to have proper conversations with the clients. Some clients are hard to talk to, things are complicated. Practitioners should be able to tackle that and try to engage a conversation. Communication can be done orally and also through writing. Listening effectively is also a part of communication skills. (Skills for people working in mental health and addictions, 2007)

A practitioner should have good communication skills and choose their words wisely while speaking to a client. Using inappropriate words while talking with the client can make them feel discriminated. Good communication skills will help a practitioner to know more about the client. If the practitioner would pay attention and listen to the client, the client will appreciate that they are being listened to and being responded to in the right way. They will not feel discriminated.

Example of application on case study


In the case study, Amelia does not have much knowledge on smoking. She could be told the disadvantages of smoking. She should be made aware that smoking is affecting her health in a really bad way and also smoking kills. She could be given knowledge that spending money on smoking is a waste of money, this would affect her financially. Amelia thinks that she will not be able to quit smoking, knowledge could be provided for her that everything is possible and there are effective methods on how a person can leave smoking. Knowledge is an important thing any person could have. Having knowledge on all these things can help Amelia to quit smoking. There would be no discrimination towards Amelia because everything would be done in an effective manner which would benefit her health.


  • Education has the capability to change people’s thoughts on things. It gives people the right information about mental illnesses. This helps to reduce stigma and discrimination against the people who are suffering from mental illnesses or addiction problems. When individuals will have the right knowledge about mental health there won’t be any stigma and discrimination created towards people with mental illnesses. (Challenging stigma and discrimination, 2009)
  • Education can be done in many ways. Education will help me to reduce discrimination and stigma towards people who have mental and addiction problems. Since I am studying mental health and addiction support, I am gaining knowledge about how to interact and treat clients. This education will help me not to discriminate clients. I will have knowledge on how to do the right things such as how to communicate and how to pay attention to what the clients are saying.
  • Education will help people to protest against discrimination towards mental health and addiction clients. If an individual would have knowledge about mental health then that individual would know what are the right things and what are not. If an individual with mental health problems would be treated in an inappropriate way then the people who have knowledge about mental health would be able to protest and help them to get their rights. (Challenging stigma and discrimination, 2009)


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  • New Zealand Drug Foundation submission on the mental health and addiction inquiry. (2018, June 7). Retrieved from New Zealand drug foundation:
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