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How long is a piece of string?
Treatment options for psychological disorders
Member Name: cirsty
Treatment options for psychological disorders
Advantages: working together as a society and protecting the vulnerable
Disadvantages: stigma, discrimination, prejudice
For a lady who has a lot to say, I feel like I'm lost for words. I'm a mental health nurse (a newly qualified one, I received my BA in Nursing in November) and I've faced the difficult conquest of working towards 'fixing' someone. With physical illnesses, doctors will often research the illness, give them a tablet, review them and send them home. Obviously this isn't always an easy process but physical illnesses are much easier for the patient, the practitioner and society to deal with because the symptoms are mostly what we can see for ourselves like if you've got a rash, you can see it and identify it easily. If you've got a wound on your leg, you can see it and identify it easily. But what about mental health problems? You can't always see them and you can't always match the symptoms with a particular label. Is someone acting a bit weird or do they have schizophrenia? Are they crying because they have depression or are just feeling a bit sad? Identifying the illness is sometimes the biggest challenge, because people believe it will never happen to them or any of their loved ones and if it did, who can they tell? Will they be treated differently? How can they overcome the shame of being crazy, insane, mental?
I've got 3 years of experience under my belt, granted it's student nurse experience but I've been incredibly lucky to be in the position where I can observe and communicate with people to get a holistic understanding of mental illness and how it impacts a person's life. I've researched and researched until all these fancy words were coming out of my ears and I finally found that balance between practice and theory. So I came up with this; a nurse's role in treatment and recovery is to acknowledge, listen, empathise and realise.
Opening my eyes and realising just how horrible society can be to the most vulnerable has been the most important turning point in my career. I've had people sneer at my job claiming that all I do is work with the 'dregs of society' and been to hospital visits with patients on placement to see a doctor about their physical ailments and been ushered to a quieter part of the hospital incase this patient in particular 'kicks off'. Society views people with mental health problems as the unpredictable, the dangerous and the avoidables which really can impact a person's self worth and self esteem (understandably). There are members of our society who fail to comprehend that having a mental illness doesn't devoid you of being a human being and I think that's what's important for us to remember. Stigma is a huge, huge barrier to the recovery of someone with a mental health problem and there are ways that we can push this out. For example, why do we call someone who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizophrenic? The person should not be named and shamed, labelled or owned by their illness, and defining the person by whatever illness they have is very disheartening and damaging to the person lowing their self worth.
We can also demolish stigma by the use of education. There are so many misconceptions of mental illness it's exhausting, especially when I see the impact these have on people who have mental health problems. For example: Schizophrenia is not multi-personality disorder, it in no way shape or form means that the person transforms randomly into other people and atleast one of these alter egos is a mass murderer. Schizophrenia is a psychotic illness that can be characterised with hallucinations and delusions, and quite often a psychotic episode can be quite frightening for the individual. An eating disorder is not about losing weight to fit into a smaller dress, it's a deadly mental health problem that torments the sufferer's every waking thought and can come hand in hand with depression and other mood disorders. Having basic understanding of mental illness and breaking down stigma can have a huge impact on us as a society and how we care for and support vulnerable individuals with mental health problems.
Recovery is such an important aspect in treating people with mental health problems. Recovery doesn't necessarily mean that the person is 100% cured and free from mental illness but it means to live a fulfilling and happy life with or without the presence of symptoms and being able to come to terms with the illness. The days of the asylums are over, and there is more encouragement for care in the community which I think can be improved drastically if we pull together and really spread the word that it doesn't make you a freak if you have mental health problems. Statistics show that 1 in 4 of us will experience mental health problems at some point in our lives, which is a massive amount.
There are a wide variety of treatments available for people with mental health problems, a lot of them are effective and really help people live long and healthy lifestyles but I think that if we really get down to the basics and support those with mental health problems, we can really make a positive impact on them. You can do this, and you don't need a degree in psychology, by learning about mental health problems and then you'd be able to identify symptoms and possibly help someone you love.
I'm going to list a few of my favourite campaigns that might kick start your mind cogs :)
Summary: I really believe we can make a difference :)