Nursing Mental Patients

I am very proud to feature a new guest writer this month, Kitty Holman who writes extensively on nursing issues and nurse training.

Kitty's article contains so much wisdom that I wish it were passed on throughout the nursing profession as compulsory reading in replacement of the many outdated 'tablets of stone' currently addressing the treatment of so-called mental patients. Thank you Kitty.

A Little Extra Patience - Adjusting the Nursing Role for Patients with Mental Disorders

Nursing is a fascinating field, simply because nurses often get more exposure to patients, illnesses, and their respective problems than do others--whether they be doctors, "experts," or even family members. If you are a nurse, then you know exactly where I'm coming from. However, this level of patient exposure can become frustrating, especially when it comes to patients with mental disorders. The nurse must learn to adjust his or her role to compensate for the differences that arise in patients with mental disorders, particularly mood disturbances.

They say patience is a virtue, and this is particularly true when it comes to caring for the mentally ill. A common occurrence when mood disorder patients interact with other people is an increased irritability that often manifests itself as "snappiness." The worst thing a nurse could do, should such a situation arise, is to react to this sudden anger by taking it personally. Of course we are all human, and it is only a natural impulse to perhaps snap back, or maybe even lose your cool altogether.

In these types of situations, understanding goes a long way. However, nursing patients with psychological disorders can be like nursing patients with all other problems, too. Aside from being as informed about each patient's specific diagnosis--including its symptoms, its variations, and its known treatment methods--you also need to consider each patient as a "normal" person who happens to struggle with an illness. We often give people with physical illnesses this consideration; patients with psychological disorders deserve the same treatment as well.>

For example, if we take the problems that arise from irritability in bipolar patients, caretakers can also make the mistake of pandering to a patient's symptoms. While patience is key, so too, is firmness. In order to properly empower a bipolar patient to confront her problems, it is important to gently correct behaviors, to encourage the patient to take a more reasonable approach to anger and frustration. A nurse, of course, is not a doctor, but he or she is an integral piece in aiding her patient copes and reintegrate into a functioning world.

While these are only practical suggestions for enabling nurses to understand the unique challenges presented by mentally ill patients, these are far from being the only steps that nurses should take. Ideally, nurses should be properly trained to handle a mental health environment. For a more theoretical perspective on mental health nursing, the Australian Journal of Nursing Education offers interesting research on the topic.

This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of Nursing Degrees  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: kitty.holman20@gmail.com.

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