When it comes to physical health, we are so conscious and aware these days. We know everything about super-foods, the latest diet trends or workouts, but when it comes to mental health, the awareness is just not there. Many of us aren’t even aware that we may be suffering from mental health issues.
The Psychiatric Nurse is a specialised person in Mental Health Nursing who has received RN Licensure (Registered nurse) and who helps patients deal with unique challenges of mental illness, psychiatric or psychological disorders, and the stigma associated with them. One must complete a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN) or Masters in Psychiatric Nursing (MSN) to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse practitioner (PMHNP).
India and mental health
About 7.5% of the Indian population suffers from some mental disorder and 20% of the population from some mental illness. India accounts for 36.5% of the suicides globally, the suicide rate having surpassed maternal mortality as the leading cause of death among women and teenage girls aged 15-19 years. According to the national Institute of Mental Health and Nuerosciences (NIMHAS) Bengaluru, 9.8 million teenagers in age group of 13-17 suffer from depression and other mental disorders.
India has not the mental health workforce up to the mark. According to WHO, in India for every 100,000 people there are 0.3% psychiatrists, 0.12 psychiatric nurses, and 0.07% psychologists and 0.07% social workers, while it should be above 3 per 100,000 population.
Mental illness is not considered as a true medical condition by the public, although these illnesses are actually more distressing than other bodily diseases. Both government and people need to focus equally on mental health as on physical health. It is clear that mental health is necessary to live a healthy and happy life. People should be explained the role of psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses whom they can meet and take help from to fight mental illness.
An aspiring psychiatric nurse with excellent empathetic, teamwork and communication skills, problem-solving abilities, compassion, a good dose of emotional maturity and excellent understanding of the theories of mental health and illness could be the perfect person for facilitating recovery in those who are in need. She/he provides services to individuals whose primary health needs are related to mental, emotional and developmental problems, especially serious disorders and persistent disabilities. The psychiatric nurse is committed to maintenance, promotion and restoration of optimal mental health for individuals, families, community groups and society.
Role of psychiatric nurse
A nurse is usually a primary health care provider, functions autonomously, often works in semi-isolation situations, has medication prescription privileges, manages the overall care of people with emotional and psychiatric problems, and usually has a consultative arrangement with a psychiatrist.
A nurse who practises psychiatric and mental health nursing in a medical setting/ non-psychiatric setting provides consultation and education to patients, families and health care team and the community. The nurse provides assessment, recommendation, and supportive therapy to the patients who are anxious, depressed or experiencing other psychological problems or emotional distress.
Collaboration implies a commitment to common goals, with shared responsibility for the outcome of care. It also implies helping in the mental health care of the patient, family, or community within the context of the treatment team. Nurses bring their own specific knowledge to the treatment process, thereby enhancing information about the patient’s assessment, treatment needs and progress.
Psychiatric nurses are in a key position to identify individual, family and group needs, conflicts and stressors. Nurses play an important role in identifying high-risk groups and preventing the occurrence of mental illness in them. Some interventions include:
1. Individual-centered intervention
2. Interventions oriented to the child in school
3. Family-centered interventions to ensure harmonious relationship
4. Interventions for families in crisis
5. Mental health education
6. Society-centered preventive measures
7. Early diagnosis and case finding
8. Early reference
9. Screening programmes
10. Early and effective treatment for patient, and if necessary, to family members
11. Training of health personnel
12. Consultation services
13. Crisis intervention
14. Community-based programmes
15. Psychiatric rehabilitation
Other Functions of Psychiatric Nurse
Psychiatric nurses evaluate the needs of patients and they administer treatments and therapies that allow patients to function as normally as possible.
Nurses in mental health develop care plans in response to the needs of individual patients. They work in conjunction with the doctors to develop a treatment plan that is right for each of the patients, and specialised nurses ensure that this plan provides some sort of relief and functionality.
Psychiatric nurses provide patient-centered comprehensive psychiatric care in a variety of settings across the entire continuum of care to provide treatment that allows the patient to achieve highest level of functioning in the least restrictive environment.
Psychiatric nurses after developing a rapport with patient building and good IPR (interpersonal Relationship) with re-assuring and listening to, interview patients to find out mental history, symptoms and causes.
Psychiatric nurses help psychiatrists and psychologists to develop a comprehensive mental health care plan. Psychiatric nurses provide supportive counselling and help families to understand mental illness better.
Psychiatric nurses may help in combating stigma and helping patients and their families manage it. Psychiatric nurses organise social events to develop social skills.
Psychiatric nurses respond to crisis situations on a daily basis which occur in any unit, e.g. in a general hospital, home setting, schools, offices, etc. Nurses are called upon to function as crisis helpers in any situation.
With all these functions of psychiatric nurses, people should be encouraged to take help from these health workers.
—The writer is a student of Nursing at Rajiv Gandhi College of Nursing, Jammu. [email protected]