Working as a mental health nurse at Summa Health has led Diane Marque, RN, BSN, to develop insights for caring for patients dealing with mental health issues. She shares those in her story.
Mental health nursing presents unique opportunities to work with patients afflicted with conditions within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as well as geriatric behaviors related to cognitive and pathological origins. I enjoy mental health nursing because it enables me to use therapeutic communication as well as practice the theories of the great humanists--Maslow, Erikson, and Rogers to name a few. When a patient is having a mental health crisis, I have discovered congruence, positive regard, and empathy achieve a connection with most patients. This is very rewarding to observe, especially when working with a patient through continuity of care. I have discovered that when I start my introduction to a patient, positive affirmations can go a long way. They get a certain look in their eyes, and it is in that moment I realize I have struck a chord. My intuition tells me that they have had little, if any positive feedback in their lives. Behavioral issues fracture relationships, further widening the gap to isolation. Isolation then leads to depression and suicide ideation. My nursing style is to see the dignity in this specific group of people. It is through these small measures that big rewards can be attained for medication compliance and progress. Chemical dependency patients can also benefit from this practice.
Today more than ever, we need an expansion of mental health resources. Much of what we see happening in the news is related to mental illness. It is time to break the stigma attached to the term "mental illness" and see it for what it is...a brain disease.