Usually, the stigma around psychiatric disorders and mental illnesses stops patients from seeking and receiving adequate treatment. Many individuals experience a sense of shame when disclosing their problems to a psychiatrist, while others negatively perceive mental illnesses. This situation attached to mental health can be destructive. After all, coping with a psychiatric disorder is already challenging, and the added burden of stigma results in tragic outcomes.
Fortunately, nurses can help the patients overcome the wave of depression, anxiety, and other negative emotions. Likewise, they communicate with patients to alleviate shame or denial about the need for mental health assistance. If you don’t know much about this arena of patient care, have a look below. Here we are listing five ways nurses can help mentally ill patients.
1. Assess Patient’s Mental State
Do you have any clue about the patient’s mental state? Is he/she suffering from psychotic disorder or depression? The first step to patient care is assessing the patient’s mental state. Nurses can talk openly and encourage the patient to discuss their symptoms. They can also create hypothetical situations to determine the changes in a person’s thought processes. In addition, nurses may learn the causes behind psychiatric disorders.
Moreover, talk about depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety with confidence to help patients understand their mental condition better. In case the patient doesn’t feel comfortable, nurses may ask them to write down the symptoms. Different online DNP programs are available to help you actively participate in patient care as a nurse. Besides diagnosing psychiatric disorders, you may recommend treatments and help people in the best possible way.
2. Provide Patient-Centered Care
For individuals with co-occurring psychiatric and mental health, providing sensitive patient-centered care is essential. People usually think patient-centered care is about putting the patient at the center of the care equation but has a lot more. It shifts the balance of responsibility and authority from doctors to patients. In other words, it is a collaborative process where patients and providers make decisions together. The active participation from patients allows practitioners to understand their needs and concerns better.
For instance, if someone hears voices in their head, they can inform the psychiatrist before or after the diagnosis. However, this treatment procedure isn’t possible for patients whose disorders have impaired their cognitive abilities. In such situations, the nurses and doctors may create a treatment plan that improves the patient’s well-being.
3. Practice Effective Communication
Undoubtedly, communicating with people suffering from a psychiatric disorder can be pretty challenging. Some won’t be willing to open up, while others might misinform the health workers. Therefore, it is essential to provide a non-judgmental space with minimal distractions. The nurse can initiate a conversation and let the patient lead the discussion at their pace. They can also ask open-ended questions while keeping a neutral language to make the patient feel comfortable.
Moreover, you can talk about practicing self-care and exercising to help them regain control over their mental health. Remember that opening up takes a lot of courage and trust; hence, don’t pressurize the patient. If the patient isn’t ready to talk about something, give them time. Besides this, listen carefully to what they tell you and nod your head to show you understand. You don’t have to agree, but showing you understand how patients feel will let them know you respect their feelings.
4. Promote Self-Awareness Among Patients
Sometimes, people suffering from psychiatric disorders are in denial, thinking it is all in their heads. In such situations, promoting self-awareness is the only way to help patients. Nurses can encourage them to observe their thoughts and feelings occasionally. If the patient is spending time with others, ask them to note down the thoughts that run through their mind. It will unfold the triggers behind stress and anxiety, helping patients take control of the situation.
Furthermore, nurses can ask patients to assess how their thoughts feed into emotions and feelings. Awareness of these aspects can help patients change, grow, and overcome their fears. Additionally, the patients will recognize the contradiction that exists within them. In addition to releasing stress from the brain, this recognition will help patients become more honest with themselves.
5. Maintain Physical Health
Psychiatric disorders can make it arduous to exercise, eat well, and sleep properly. It is because the medications have side effects that cause physical health problems. Similarly, people with serious mental illnesses can schizophrenia are likely to develop cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Therefore, nurses have to look for signs of physical illnesses and offer suitable treatment programs.
Besides regular medical checkups, you have to insist patients quit smoking and drinking since it can worsen physical health. Nurses can also recommend screening tests to recognize diseases beforehand. Apart from checkups, you have to encourage patients to make some lifestyle changes. They should exercise regularly and switch to a healthy diet. After all, the minerals and nutrients directly impact cognitive functioning.
Undeniably, coping with psychiatric disorders can be pretty challenging. People have difficulty concentrating, which affects their overall cognitive functioning. Still, they aren’t willing to seek help because of the associated stigma. Luckily, nurses are stepping in to help such patients. Nurses make every possible effort to help patients. They show compassion, deliver quality care, and help patients overcome mental disorders.
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