What makes a Good / Bad Psych Nurse?

Discussion in 'Mental Health Disorders' started by meliisa, Jun 24, 2010.

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  1. meliisa

    meliisa Member

    Hey everyone. Im a nursing student who's going out on a mental health prac to a psych hospital.
    I have had my own experiences in psych hospitals (as a patient) and I know what I don't like nurses doing and what I thought made my day "better." I felt better knowing that some of the nurses took the time to dig below the surface and the charade and made me feel like I wasn't alone and people were there for me.
    So in your opinion what makes a good psych nurse and what makes a bad one?
    Experiences and stories welcome.
    I would love to get in to psych nursing when I graduate. Thanks =D
  2. ballinluig

    ballinluig Well-Known Member


    all i can say from my own experince is a good mh nurse is someone who will sit down with u-eye to eye and truely listen to what u say. they let u speak from the heart. they dont give u shite and think ur stupid in what ever choices u made to get u into a psyc place. they give u a hug or pat ur arm when ur crying, they say nice things to u. i was in a very very dark place, 3 boys and a good hubby at home, never ever had mental health issues but ended up taking an od. all i really needed at that moment was a good cry and a hug and to be told its ok, i can have 'time-out' from the stresses of my life. i could just think about me.

    hope it helps, donnax
  3. Madam Mim

    Madam Mim Well-Known Member

    I would agree with what Donna said. I think the most important thing is to feel that someone is really listening to you and actually cares. I am painfully aware that to everyone in the mental health profession it is just that, a profession, so it's such a lovely surprise when you find someone who is actually willing to listen to you without forcing their opinions/suggestions/diagnoses on you. And yes, sometimes a hug is all you need.

    Good luck to you, I bet you'll make a brilliant mental health nurse.

  4. ema

    ema Antiquities Friend

    The best nurses I ever had were not on in psych, but what made them so good still applies. They were gentle, calm, paid attention to me when they were with me, and respected my body.

    The worst nurses I ever had were all psych. They were harsh, cold, rude, didn't listen, dismissive, and treated my body like a sack as well as something they could just touch anywhere they wanted without asking or first explaining why they had to touch where they did. One didn't bother to do her vitals until the end of her shift and would wake us up at 4am to weigh us and do that stuff. Most of us are lucky to get sleep and certainly don't need to wake up for that.

    The one thing that helps the most, I think, is a simple, genuine smile :mhmm:
  5. GA_lost

    GA_lost Well-Known Member

    A good psych nurse is someone who does not ignore physical symptoms a psych patient has. In my last hospitalization, my left leg began to hurt very badly. I tried calling the front desk and was ignored for two hours. Finally a nurse came with a doctor. The nurse was willing to help but the doctor just about ignored everything. The person who helped me most was the nurse on the next shift. She noticed how cold my foot felt to her and called the doctor back, who called a different doctor in. Turned out I had a large clot in an artery in my leg. I had surgery the next day. Rather that nurse saved my leg. Your desire to become a nurse is commendable, and I hope you accomplish your dream.
  6. plates

    plates Well-Known Member

    Understanding one's limitations. If you're not trained in mental health problems, or (most likely) the training is piss poor, don't pretend you know what you're talking about. It can make things much worse.

    That people are much more than their diagnosis or presentation at any given moment.

    Boundaries, respect of personal differences, regardless of the MH problem presented. Realising you are going to get people who are incredibily agitated/anxious, and that there are ways to contain someone without resorting to mental, emotional, physical threats/abuse of sectioning/belittling/whatnot.

    I don't know, I've been talking to managers for the past two years, I talked to one today about something I'm working on. And it's alarming how poor the knowledge of MH problems (in a crisis) is.

    Listening to service users. If there are any schemes out there that are about service user-professional dialogue- go to them. You'll learn much more listening to people who are going through the system, or out of the system altogether, or being very active in their treatment.

    Realising many many people are frightened to talk about how they feel, or about what they go through in the system. And fear is powerful to control/silence, and make everyone think they're doing everything well.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2010
  7. Aurora Gory Alice

    Aurora Gory Alice Well-Known Member

    I think just caring and being genuine with it can make a WHOLE lot of difference when dealing with mental health professionals.
    If I felt like the empathy was genuine I'd be a lot more trusting. I think we all would.
  8. KittyGirl

    KittyGirl Well-Known Member

    ahh~ someone who isn't condescending when they speak to patients. < that's important.
  9. Kaos General

    Kaos General Well-Known Member

    Hmmm you really wanna know? Here goes:

    Someone who isn't condascending
    Someone who listens instead of just pumping you full of drugs when you get even slightly
    Someone who has compassion instead of hatred for the job they do
    Someone who doesn't call you selfish because you tried to kill yourself

    etc. it all depends if you are talking about a CPN or someone who works in a psych unit
  10. plates

    plates Well-Known Member

    Someone who doesn't unload personal prejudices on to the patient.

    I absolutely loathe hearing nurses saying to women on section 3 "Think about your children." I mean look at that statement- it reeks of somebody (a professional in this case who should know better) who is not thinking clearly about realities.

    When you are that unwell, and especially if you're trapped in a psych ward, and you're suffering from things that nurses have no intiative to know/want to know, playing guilt trips can be very harmful not only to the patient but people listening.

    I've had it myself. "Please your parents," and "You're my child, you're too young to die." I am very young looking and I'm south asian, so when I get admitted to a psych ward, senior nurses think they can do the "I'm your father" act with me. They don't get away with it because I soon tell them where to go.

    Realise the specialist help for drugs/ EDs or mental health problems as a whole, is completely non-existent, inadequate and be honest 'bout that. I hated hearing "You're going to get help" for 7 years and being nearly at death's door I was again pushed away. Encourage pursuing other avenues, because they ARE out there; internal as well as external.

    Also- realise, and be honest here, IF you see or know nurses are abusing their responsibilities, are not fit to work, ESPECIALLY at night where things can go from bad to worse, you do have a responsibility to draw attention to people's behaviour. It gives you a lot of integrity if you see something going on, to take it up with the matron. Many nurses go into the job, thinking night work is an easy way to work, seeing as "everyone is drugged, should be sleeping, I'll sleep too! or I'll throw my power 'round, be a bully to patients who can't talk, but I'm not a bully because nobody says I am!"

    IF someone appears very distressed, it doesn't mean that the person cannot hear/see what is going on around them, and is not a reason for nurses to disclose one's personal information to unrelated people like other patient's relatives. Quite the opposite- that person can be hyper-aware at the same time as being overwhelmed with whatever distress they are going through.

    IF someone doesn't want to take medication, do not treat them like a lesser human being or someone who is taking up space on the ward. This was a problem when I was 'bout to die from anorexia and stuck on a general ward. People who don't want to take ADs or APs are not non-compliant but they have a right over their treatment if they are not sectioned. That also doesn't make them 'less ill' than people taking medication, but maybe they have a firm idea of what helps them and what doesn't, and this has to be respected. More often than not, I've had issues with this.

    If you want to be a good psych nurse, just try and read up on everything, what is known about 'mental illness', documents on MIND about the current issues going on in MH care, and other approaches/persepectives of lets say 'psychosis'. The best nurse I came across- was a shining light, you have no idea :smile:. She actually told me: "I don't know much but I'm very interested in talking to you, because any time I do not know, I always try to find out, or refer whoever is asking me questions to the right people." She also admitted me to hospital the last time, because she could see me clearly and was listening.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2010
  11. Perfect Melancholy

    Perfect Melancholy SF Friend

    spot on =)
  12. sinnssykdom

    sinnssykdom Banned Member

    Honestly, i have to say some of the worst nurses i have come across were in the psych ward. Not to say all are bad, i've come across some great ones too.

    Put smile on your face but don't be too obnoxious about it. Seriously last time i was in the pward there was this nurse there who looked miserable almost to the point where it was almost uncomfortable to be around him! I know the job can be sort of depressing, i know some of the stories you hear may not be most heart warming, but please please PLEASE try not to show it. I understand sometimes you have a bad day, that's understandable.

    Of course you have to be super open minded and understanding, but that's obvious.

    Listen to people. Don't force them to talk, don't hover around.

    Also stop for a minute and think what it would be like if you were in their shoes.
    Last time i was in the pward they thought i was having a relationship with some guy(lol) because we talked alot. When in reality we WERENT. First of all any relationship in a psych ward is a disaster waiting to happen! Second of all, everyone else was way older. I was actually the youngest person there. The guy who i was talking to was a little older than me so we had a lot in common, i mean we were there for the same reason and what not and also i knew his brother and he went to the highschool i used to go to so we talked about that alot. Most of the other people there were elderly people i had nothing in common with or middle aged bipolars who couldn't shut up!(clearly manic) I tried talking to them... 2 hours later i got saved by a nurse who wanted to talk to me. Then there were a few just overall 'different' individuals who no one wanted to talk to. SO basically common sense as well.

    Anyway if i think of anymore things ill post them here, for now i hope that helps.
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