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How to Handle Mental Health Patients

How to Handle Mental Health Patients

Terri Polick | NursingLink

Do you remember the 1975 movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? I saw it my junior year of nursing school when I was just about to enter my psychiatric rotation at an old veteran’s administration hospital that looked like it came straight out of that movie. To make matters worse, my teacher was an older, stricter version of Nurse Ratched. Seriously.

Back then, I swore I would never go into the psychiatric field and now, 33 years later, I’m working as a psychiatric nurse. Why did I make the switch?

I became interested in the mental health field as I worked with patients in other specialty areas. My experience taught me that just because you don’t work behind locked doors on a psychiatric unit, doesn’t mean that you won’t run into patients with mental health issues during your nursing career. The first step to working with psychiatric patients in all healthcare settings is getting over misconceptions and learning how to meet the patient’s needs.

Check Their Meds

When a patient reports mental health issues, the first thing you should do is to look closely at their medication list. Typically, nurses collect this information quickly when a patient is admitted; but it’s imperative to stop and really examine what medications the patient is taking because it can significantly impact future treatment. Psychotropic medications are powerful agents that can cause many physical problems if taken by themselves, or in combination with other drugs.

For example:

• Zyprexa, one of the first atypical antipsychotics put on the market, is linked to the development of early onset diabetes.
EKG changes can occur when a patient takes any conventional antipsychotic medication in combination with the atypical antipsychotic, Geodon.
• Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors like Pristiq, may increase the risk of bleeding, especially when taken in combination with aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and warfarin.
• Patients with a long history of psychosis with manic episodes are commonly prescribed Haldol and Lithium. These medications are effective and inexpensive, but can cause alteration in consciousness, encephalopathy, extrapyramidal effects, fever, and leukocytosis.

The list of medications and their undesirable side effects goes on without end. Be alert to possible complications if your patient is taking any psychotropic medications.

Next: About Clinical Depression >>


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    mk2013

    12 months ago

    1156 comments

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    trailers

    over 2 years ago

    4 comments

    although i have watch many movies like i am watching all the movies listed at movie trailers, i usually skip the psychiatric movies about ones like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest because i believe many of them are not good thinking style of the human brain however thank you for your article about this

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    msaiwn

    about 3 years ago

    8 comments

    Nurses with experience in the mental health field are very valuable in drug rehab centers.A nurse should seek to engage with the person in care in a positive and collaborative way that will empower the patient to draw on his or her inner resources in addition to any other treatment they may be receiving.It's a very demanding job and I have all the respect for them.My brother was in a drug rehab Washington center and then I saw how a nurse makes the patient feel.He and the medical staff had a very good relationship.I am grateful that there still are persons that care and don't judge.I'm thankful that my brother got a second chance.

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    afterwop

    about 3 years ago

    58 comments

    Handling mental health patients is a delicate issue, and I think that emotion and empathy are essentiel. These will affect a nurse's work, also one's nursing skills and mindset are of capital importance. I find it encouraging that hospitals today offer holistic drug treatment as well as alternative therapies. That's why nurses should strive to learn as many new healing skills as possible, from kinesiotherapy to psychology.

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    JoeKeller

    about 3 years ago

    52 comments

    One of my friends that works for California drug rehab has experience with mental health patients. He says that such patients are very demanding and you need to be psychologically fit to deal with them. Another thing you need to know is that working with mental health patients also requires longer holidays:))

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    NeilKirchoff

    about 3 years ago

    10 comments

    I too am a psychiatric nurse and the same as you I didn't want to have anything to do with it because of that movie. In my first year of college I was never sober(come on who heard of a sober college student in his first year?) and I didn't pay any attention to friends or family. In my second year of college a good friend developed a strange psychiatric disease and that is what started my interest for this domain.

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    EvePerro

    over 3 years ago

    6 comments

    Oh, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, my favorite movie! It inspired me a lot since I was little. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I worked at drug rehab Florida and it was not a piece of cake. I am not comparing the addicts with people with mental problems, but I guess that it is pretty much the same job.

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