What does working as a psychiatric nurse in modern-day healthcare facilities look like? Today, one-fifth of Americans are suffering from mental health problems. These patients need professional assistance to recover from these ailments properly. Psychiatric nurses consider their profession a rewarding career as this vocation is challenging and educational. If you have watched the Oscar-winning One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, you may realize what sort of experiences are to be expected in this discipline. Sitting with patients in group therapy sessions, giving them drugs from behind glass windows, and watching a guard restraining disturbed patients – these experiences teach nurses some tips to avoid misfortune.
Suggestions for nurses dealing with people with mental health conditions
While discussing the mental health nursing discipline, experts describe it as financially rewarding and emotionally draining. Newcomers to this profession often become concerned for their safety but also the recovery of their patients. So, how do you help mental health patients recover from their ailments? First, a nurse should realize that certain barriers prevent these patients from improving. These reasons may include expensive healthcare, fewer healthcare providers, prevalent cultural misconceptions, and a lack of trust in the discipline of psychiatry among patients. So, consider the following suggestions to make yourself a better caregiver. Here are some tips for nurses working in mental health facilities:
- Continue professional education
Primarily, we suggest nurses working for psychiatric institutions focus on bolstering their education. Learn as much as you can about mental health. The psychiatric nurse practitioner job outlook does seem brighter with continued education and better learning. Remember that the BLS expects a 52% increase in mental health nurses’ employment opportunities. Due to COVID-19’s job outlook looks promising for psychiatric nurses this decade. It’s estimated that some 30,000 jobs will appear for our country’s APRNs. So, leverage online courses to apply for these jobs. Continue your education for a rising career in the nursing industry.
- Educate your patients
Besides self-education, psychiatric nurses should focus on teaching their patients about mental health issues. Some patients have several misconceptions regarding certain mental health concerns, and nurses can clear the air about mental well-being. For example, tell your patients how depression isn’t the same as the blues or cognitive decline doesn’t always come naturally while aging.
- Know your patients-
Educating your patient isn’t effective when you don’t know them properly. Remember that patients shouldn’t be defined by their illness. You’re here to help the patient recover; and that recovery can’t be achieved without empathy or compassion. Know your patient and learn relevant details about an individual you’re treating. Remember that your patient deserves to be understood as a person. So, a successful psychiatric nurse listens attentively to these mental health patients to understand them.
- Always listen attentively
Continuing on the point above, we suggest you attend to them by listening to them actively. Connect with them emotionally and show them that they can trust you. That’s how psychiatric nurses can translate a patient’s suffering medically. So, make them feel heard by listening to a patient’s stories, making eye contact, and expressing interest with your body language. This behavior creates a connection between nurses and their patients, helping them feel comfortable with their surroundings.
- Improve cultural competence
Dealing with mental health patients can become more manageable with better cultural competence among RNs. So, why does cultural competence matter today? First, it prevents nurses from offending their patients or saying anything that might sound disrespectful. It makes psychiatric nurses appear more tolerable to mental health patients. You can earn their trust easily by learning to respect their beliefs, cultures, and other ideologies.
- Use online resources
Just like you can use online courses to educate yourself professionally, several digital resources are available to help psychiatric nurses perform their duties. For example, you can contact organizations founded to help RNs working in psychiatric facilities, such as the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). These associations can give you access to different critical educational resources. Moreover, these organizations are helpful for nurses themselves suffering from mental health issues. So you can focus on self-care as well.
- Focus on self-care
Talking about self-care, don’t forget about your well-being while catering to the needs of your patients. It’s estimated that 95% of RNs feel “burnt out,” while a similar number wishes to leave the vocation in 2022. Remember that the profession of psychiatry can be emotionally draining since taking care of a person suffering from mental health problems isn’t easy. So, drink plenty of water, sleep 7-8 hours a night, and consume healthy meals. Establish a work-life balance to avoid problems such as burnout.
- Establish some routines
Patients suffering from mental health issues require a predictable environment for quick recovery. Create some routines to make them feel comfortable. These routines shall help your patients become more familiar with the doctor’s treatment plan. Unpredictability may worsen their condition.
- Keep your distance:-
While treating patients, don’t forget to maintain some distance. It’s dangerous to forget about your safety in close quarters with a potentially harmful individual. Statistics show that 20% of psychiatric nurses have been assaulted physically by their patients. Establish some boundaries and verbal limits the patients shouldn’t be allowed to cross. Ask patients to refrain from uttering any sexual jokes or using abusive language. That’s how you can keep your distance and stay safe in your mental health institution.
We’ve discussed that psychiatric nursing can be a rewarding but also exhausting career. So, RNs should learn some tips while working in mental health institutions. Our tactics mentioned above let you help your patients recover properly. First, continue your professional learning and educate your patients about mental health. Focus on self-care, maintain boundaries, and hone your cultural competence to connect with patients effectively. Leverage online resources to understand the mentality of your patients better. Know your patients, listen to them actively, and empower them to obtain better results. This way, psychiatric nurses can aid in the swift recovery of their patients.