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What makes a good mental health professional to you.(10 Posts)
I have recently been offered a job as a health care assistant on an acute inpatient mental health ward, this is something I've wanted to do for a long time (since finishing school in fact) and although eventually I want to be a mental health nurse, this is as close as I can get for now while my children are young. I basically wondered for those of you who have has mental health issues either as an in patient or not or as a family member, what was the most important thing someone could do for you? What was your expectation of staff members and what would just make things easier for you? Obviously I understand that each person has individual needs but I was just hoping for a little bit of an insight into what I can do to be as helpful as I possibly can for someone. Any little bit of information you'd like to share will be great fully taken on board!
Sorry if this is a bit rambling! Thanks if anyone can help me!
-Being genuinely interested (but not nosy) about people's experiences.
-Understanding that people's behaviour and experiences are meaningful and make sense in the context of their life history and current situation (rather than lumping them all as 'symptoms')
-not patronising people or making judgments about them based on their history or the state they are currently in, or their education (or lack thereof). Not assuming that patients are a species apart, and realising that there is no special magic that protects health professionals from the kind of suffering their patients are experiencing.
But mainly just wanting to listen and understand, and being willing to make the effort to try and imaginatively enter into someone else's experiences so that both you and they can start trying to make sense of it.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Someone who believes you when you report a problem, and is solutions based in their consultations with you.
Have at least a basic understanding of disability/sickness benefits and willingness to help support applications. I had an awful psychologist who I asked to provide a statement for my DLA form, and she wanted to spend an entire therapy session picking apart why I wanted to languish on benefits and didn't feel the need to work (and having no idea that DLA is not an out of work benefit) And luckily a fantastic CPN who helped support my most recent renewal, which helped it get approved in less than a week.
I'd say this applies to other legal/admin as well (have had to get support with financial/housing situation before as well). The authorities make you jump through so many hoops that it's almost a full time job trying to keep up with it all, on top of dealing with your own illness.
Listen and don't tell people how they feel before they've had a chance to tell you.
Totally agree with the patronizing theme. Being spoken to like you are a complete div, not listening to what you have said, generalizing and marginalizing your experiences (as in I've seen it all before) etc is just rude and infuriating. As is finishing your sentences for you (and getting them wrong) .
Acceptance is really important, as is building trust (esp with therapists).
During my session I want my GP / Pdoc / therapist to be attentive to me. They have many patients / clients, I only have one doctor and one therapist, and our session matters to me.
Ex RMN here.
- empathy. Really listening. The number of times that people's experiences and feelings are reduced to "symptoms" is frightening. Especially if someone is angry.....it is not always part of their illness, sometimes people are just pissed off at being in a crap place with lots of other people, just like the rest of life! The number of RMNs and HCAs who want to immediately medicate anger is appalling.
- please never ever forget that you are in a position of relative power over your service users, most of whom do not want to be there, and that it should never be abused. I have seen nursing teams talk about sectionning someone as it would be the easiest thing to do. I always told staff that for us, sectionning is just another day at work. For those on the receiving end of the section, it is life changing and should always be a last resort.
- do not wind patients up, then end up having to restrain them or medicate them. This happened a few times on the ward I worked on and it sickened me, a blatant abuse of power.
- always remember that any one of us could develop mental health problems, and the families of service users need nursing support just as much as the service users. It's a rough time for everybody being in hospital.
- lastly, please just treat people as people, with respect, compassion and really listen to them.
Sorry for the essay, I left being an RMN partly for health reasons, but also because I couldn't stand the blatant abuses of power and control over people. And nothing happened when this was highlighted to management. I feel really sad for a lot of my ex-service users, and just hope I helped a little bit.
This list will be similar to everyone else's I think
- don't patronise
- treat everyone as an individual, even if they present in a very similar way to others
- be approachable and friendly, I found it much easier to open up to the friendlier staff
- get to know your patients, not just their illness. A lovely HcA helped me learn to play the guitar when I was in hospital, and she used to print off the chords for songs and bring them in for us.
- can you play cards? Some of my calmest times were sittin f in the evenings playing cards with the nurses and other patients, it helped everyone take their minds off things, especially in the evening when there was nothing else to do.
- don't bitch about other service users or staff, and definitely not in front of patients
- some patients won't like you, that's okay
- be genuine
- sometimes patients will get angry / violent. It's not personal. Being on a psych ward is a horrible experience. I was desperate to abscond and there were times when I would stop at nothing I very and get out or harm myself. I am deeply ashamed of my behaviour towards staff when I kicked off, and I was always consumed with guilt the next day. It wasn't me that behaved like that, it was my illness (although of course I took responsibility for my actions). Each day is a new day and it was helpful when the staff didn't treat me any differently when they were next on shift.
- spend as much time as you can out of the office and sitting where patients can come and find you & join in with the banter. There are some funny times too.
- it's going to be a tough job, physical and emotionally. But you will be making a difference. The fact you have started this thread shows that your are going to be great. I still think of some of the wonderful nurses that looked after me in hospital. I wish I could contact them and let them know how far I have come. I will always be grateful for the time and energy they devoted to me, I wouldn't be here without them all
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