Care issues for the mentally ill

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  • #10746

    Lori
    Member

    I am a white, female Registered Nurse working in a state mental hospital. I would like to hear from people who have had and been treated for mental illness. What would make it easier for you and your culture? If you or a loved one came to my hospital, what could I do to make your stay more comfortable? Are there any self care rites or rituals, food, sleeping arrangements I should know about? Anything that I, being a white nurse with little experience with other cultures, may not know?

    User Detail :  

    Name : Lori, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Pentecostal, Age : 37, City : Warm Springs, State : MT Country : United States, Occupation : Registered Nurse, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #16001

    Amy
    Member

    Having a mental illness is not the same as being part of a ‘culture.’ How you would treat a Pakistani woman with a mental illness might be very different from the way I would like to be treated. Having a mental illness means you are sick, just like having diabetes or cancer. The most important thing to remember is that we are human beings, even when we are acting strange or behaving in a manner that is threatening or intimidating. I have yet to meet someone with a mental illness who enjoys his or her symptoms. What they are going through is harder on them than on anyone around them.

    Treat your patients with empathy and ask them questions about what they would like. If they can’t respond, ask their family. Treat them like people. If they can’t communicate with you, it is still good to let them know what is going on around them. Tell them they are having blood drawn and why. Tell them they will be having a shower today. Just treat them with the respect you would want if you were suddenly placed into a foreign land where no one understood you, and you didn’t know how to follow the rules of behaivor expected of you, and you were mostly just scared and feeling very alone.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Amy, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Disability : mental illness (bipolar disorder), Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Wiccan, Age : 27, City : Tampa, State : FL Country : United States, Occupation : mom, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #18035

    Jen30983
    Participant

    My mother is a psychiatric nurse. She says a lot of nurses assume the patients don’t notice what is or isn’t done for them, but they do. I’d say ask the patient; if his or her disease is too severe, you could ask the family about his/her interests, beliefs, etc. Even if they don’t or can’t show it, I’m willing to bet they’d appreciate it. And the family would appreciate it, too. It’s comforting to know a loved one is well-cared for physically and mentally.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Jen30983, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 19, City : North Bay, State : NA Country : Canada, Occupation : Student, Education level : High School Diploma, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #24024

    Dino
    Member

    I went into inpatient care at a mental hospital last year, mainly for trying to kill myself. If it matters, I’m white and went in at age 17. The hospital I went to was good to me, considering ones I’ve heard about.

    Food: I was able to have vegetarian meals, and we were allowed to make a list of things we did and didn’t enjoy or wouldn’t eat, though they had a hard time following that a lot, probably because there were a lot of people to take care of. We all mainly got the same meal, maybe a few alterations. I freaked out when I got a fish dinner, but other than that, the rest of the food situation was OK.

    I got punished for having an anxiety attack – that sucked. I think they should realize that there is a difference between being bad and not being able to cope. I was not interrupting anyone, except maybe some nurses’ conversation, by crying, but I couldn’t participate because there were a lot of people there (I have social anxiety disorder and agoraphobia) and they sent me to my room and wouldn’t let me do the next activity or eat lunch in the cafeteria, and they took away points (there was a point system where I went, more points = more privileges, like phone calls and whatnot).

    There was one nurse through my stay who I really enjoyed. When everyone took away all my coping methods, she came to me and gave me ideas for new ones. She came to talk to me, asked me questions. Unlike the rest of the nurses and techs, she did what I thought only the physiologists and doctors would do once a day, if that.

    My advice is that if you’re going to take something away, at least be kind enough to replace it with something. Help us, don’t leave us hanging.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Dino, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, Age : 18, City : Portland, State : ME Country : United States, Occupation : High School Student, Education level : Less than High School Diploma, Social class : Middle class, 
    #29392

    D31852
    Participant

    I have received treatment for mental illness. I think the most important thing is for people to realize that people with mental illness are just like everyone else, and they are human beings. The worst treatment I received was from people who thought I was less than them just because I was ill. I didn’t choose to be ill, and I am a person, not a walking illness. As far as what makes people more comfortable, that depends on the individual, just as it would with any physical illness. I don’t know what you mean by ‘your culture.’ Mental illness can occur in people from any class, of any race, from any background and with any culture. There isn’t one culture. I guess the other thing that is important in treatment is to have a thorough understanding of the patient’s illness. Unfortunately, many patients receive inappropriate or inadequate care from doctors or nurses who are not knowledgable of their illness.

    User Detail :  

    Name : D31852, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 23, City : Phoenix, State : AZ Country : United States, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #35567

    Liza
    Participant

    I think some of the responders misunderstood the question. Lorina was asking about cultural practices/taboos that could be treated with sensitivity when caring for patients.She was not referring to mental illness as a ‘culture’. The question was obviously intended to obtain information to better help with her care of people whose culture she may not be familiar with.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Liza, City : Brooklyn, State : NY Country : United States, 
    #38483

    Jedd C.
    Member

    After being treated for the last 5 years, I would say the number one thing that irks me is when the care provider ‘talks down’ to me or assumes that they must dummy down their conversations with me. Hey, I have a four year bachelors degree, a wife, three kids and a mortgage and a great position in the Title business. I think I am able to understand what you are trying to explain. Not everyone being treated is low functioning.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Jedd C., Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 35, City : Akron, State : OH Country : United States, Occupation : escrow, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #18482

    tore-b
    Participant

    Dear Lorina, thank you for asking. I can’t really help you with descriptions of exotic traditions and practices, as I’m from a country in scandinavia, a region with a culture almost identical to that in GB and the US. I can, however, provide you with a personal account since I’ve been in a mental hospital myself (I suffered from a deep depression, from which I recovered) This letter is a bit rambling, as it’s quite late in the evening with no time for corrections and spell checking, (and english not being my first language) but I hope you’ll find it readable. I went to the hospital of my own free will, but others are not so fortunate. Some are, as you know, too disturbed by the pain and chaos in their minds to realize that they need help, and are hospitalized by force. I’ve known several fellow patients who’ve experienced this, and from talking to them, and thinking about my own experience of being in a mental hospital, I’ve drawn the following conclusion: It is humiliating to be ill and in need of care. Even more so when you are labeled ‘mentally ill’ -not only are you ill, you are viewed as potentially dangerous, not able to think clearly, unpredictable.. the list goes on. This humiliation really hurts, and when a nurse or caretaker treated me as a child it felt like a knife in my heart. Luckily I went to another institution later, where the staff treated the patients as equals, and found that my healing process went much faster there. To be able to chat with a staff-member as if we were colleagues in the hospital (not as doctor and patient, or guard and inmate) really helped me rebuild my self esteem and dignity. It is very hard to speak to seriously crazy people without treating them like children or idiots -especially when they do act that way.. but when a nurse manages to do it, it is a wonderful thing for the patient. Here’s a good technique: It helps to envision the mentally ill person as a person with defective glasses, that distorts his perceptions of the world. He himself is just as aware, clear headed and emotional as others. When I use this technique it was easier for me to talk to fellow patient, even the psychotic ones, as equals. I hope you will find some oof this useful, good luck with your career and best wishes, tore

    User Detail :  

    Name : tore-b, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 26, City : københavn, State : NA Country : Denmark, Occupation : unemployed, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #45398

    AJ
    Participant

    It is important to treat a mentally ill person just like you would treat Joe Bloggs down the road. Always be friendly-say good morning, have a joke. If possible or at all practical, separate those who are severely mentally ill (e.g. having paranoid delusions), from those who are less ill (e.g. anxiety). Do this to try and reduce stress. Let the person have some things with them from home to comfort them (e.g. Discman, favourite bear, journal). I suppose the main thing is to try and make the hospital feel as much like home and as little like a hospital as possible. The nurses should be like the patient’s foster-carer-the carer they have when their carer isn’t there. Treat the person as though they are sick, like having pneumonia or something, don’t treat them like they are bad, naughty or deserving of punishment.

    User Detail :  

    Name : AJ, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Disability : Blind, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Episcopalian, Age : 18, City : n/a, State : NA Country : Australia, Occupation : student, Education level : High School Diploma, Social class : Middle class, 
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