Eight Ways Nurses Can Help Patients with Mental Health Problems

Mental health problems require specialized care, which only the healthcare sector can provide. While mental health encompasses many conditions with varying symptoms, each case must get appropriately treated. Mental health issues stem from many different factors. Some of these occur due to genetics, while some are a consequence of the environment. Psychiatrists are at the forefront of ensuring patients experiencing mental health issues are cared for, but nurses can help with case management. Nurses are more than assistants. They can shape a patient’s experience while providing care. In some cases, a nurse plays an even more critical part in helping a patient recover. In a high stake environment like a mental health facility, here are some ways nurses can help:

  1. Help Assess a Patient’s Mental Health Status

Before any treatment can start, a patient’s condition needs assessment. A nurse should document how far a patient’s symptoms go. They also need to know when the first signs and symptoms of an impending illness started and how the patient handled it. When it comes to mental health patients, nurses will need to rely on the information provided by the patient and their family. In cases of paranoia disorders or pathological lying, a patient may give false information. Therefore, when nurses gather all the relevant details, they can pay attention to what a patient is saying and pick patterns in the data.

  • Upgrade Their Skill Level

Most nurses should strive to become at least a practitioner before working with mental health patients. You should seek online help to find out how to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner before joining the workforce. Mental health patients have specific needs. These needs include monitoring their symptoms, managing medicines, and providing counseling. Practitioners are far more independent and skilled to ensure they can handle some cases with their expertise. This will benefit the patients seeking help and even fast-track them to keep their condition under control.

  • Be Sensitive Towards Patients

Mental health is a tricky subject. People with mental health issues may have specific patterns and phobias which they may express periodically. Nurses should always exercise sensitivity and care if a patient is having an episode. Using brute force, ridiculing the patient, or not taking them seriously may severely impact their health. In extreme cases, this can cause a patient’s health to deteriorate further. Nurses should look into what they can do to manage phobias. For example, if a patient is afraid of bright lights, the lighting situation can get substituted for something milder. If nurses are sensitive towards patients, they may show better results. For extreme cases, it may also benefit patients in reducing the number of episodes they have.

  • Consult Psychiatrists in Extensive Cases

Nurses shouldn’t try to tackle complicated cases on their own. Whenever they feel a patient may need more supervision and help, they should consult psychiatrists. This is useful when dealing with issues where neither medicines nor counseling is helping the patient. Psychiatrists can provide nurses with suitable guidance which they can use to deal with the patient in helping them cope. Consulting can also help nurses get a starting point on where their diagnostic route could use fixing. Through a combined effort, a patient can get looked after much more appropriately.

  • Communicate with the Patient

Not every patient is incoherent or struggles to communicate. Some patients have mild cases or conditions that allow them to have conversations. In such circumstances, nurses should try and talk to the patient directly. Talking to a patient is all about making them understand what they have and why they have it. Patients can also have the space to ask questions and understand their mental health status properly. While conversing with patients, nurses should mind their language and use appropriate terms and words. Accuracy and sensitivity both matter. Mental health is a fragile topic that is also heavily stigmatized. A nurse should never be the reason why a patient refuses help or feels ashamed about their health.

  • Provide Therapy Sessions

Nurses can hone the skills that allow them to practice therapy. Some patients need guidance that extends beyond seeking medical help. Therapy is a form of holistic care. The purpose of each therapeutic session is to provide both insight and care to help a patient understand their case. This is useful for people going through conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, and even anger management. The conversations and activities these patients do in therapy can help them get better. It can also help them manage their triggers, allowing them to live a more liberating life.

  • Help the Patient’s Caretakers Understand

Not every patient may be relying on their families for help. Some have caretakers. As a nurse, the patient’s caretakers must also be involved in understanding mental health. This includes discussing the patient’s health at length. If the patient agrees to family or group therapy, ensure adequate sessions to help the caretaker connect with the patient. Nurses should also encourage conversations and questions to clear any ambiguity that can hinder the patient’s recovery. Part of the explanation and discussion process also includes close monitoring of the patient’s medicines. If a patient is getting discharged, a nurse needs to instruct the caretaker on at-home care.

  • Keep the Patient Comfortable

Patients should be comfortable while they get treated. Some cases of violent outbursts can lead to a patient getting restrained. However, the restraints shouldn’t hurt the patient in any way and should also keep them safe. The same goes for if a patient is refusing treatment. Instead of force, a patient should be gently guided. If a case is too complex and may need some detail, a system should get implemented. Nurses may discuss the best way to tackle complex topics with other mental health professionals. This should include steps on approaching the patient and how many nurses should be on the scene. As long as a patient feels comfortable getting care, there should be no problem helping them recover. Even if the patient doesn’t recover, their symptoms become manageable.

Final Words

Mental health is a vast subject yet an important one. There are numerous people globally battling mental health conditions every day. When patients turn to professionals for help, they need care. Nurses are pivotal in providing care. These professionals can chart documents, conduct therapy and even work with patients through different activities. Nurses can help facilitate patient care through their understanding, expertise, and knowledge of mental health. The culmination of their efforts is assisting patients in managing their symptoms and conditions better.

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay 

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