Nursing Notes

April 17, 2012

Mental illness means higher risk of physical problems

Filed under: Nursing — Shirley @ 1:08 pm
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Here’s an article from Nurse.com that talks about a study showing a correlation between mental health and physical health.  As a psychiatric nurse, I have always know that my patients have a higher risk of certain physical diseases.  It’s amazing to me that it has taken so long for others to notice and try to figure it out.

Asthama, diabetes, hypertension, and even strokes are common Axis III diagnoses for inpatient mental health patients of all ages.  There has to be a reason for this correlation.  Maybe now there will be more studies to try to figure out the connections.  I can only hope so.

Please read this excerpt of the article and click over to Nurse.com to read the rest.  It’s worth your time and effort to do so.  While there, check out some of the other articles they have about current nursing issues.

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Adults who had a mental illness in the past year have higher rates of certain physical illnesses than those not
experiencing mental illness, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration.
For example, 21.9% of adults in a SAMHSA national survey who experienced any mental illness (based on
diagnostic criteria specified in DSM-iv) in the past year had hypertension. Meanwhile, 18.3% of those without any
mental illness had hypertension.
And 15.7% of adults who had any mental illness in the past year also had asthma, while 10.6% of those without
mental illness had the condition.
Adults who had a serious mental illness (a mental illness causing serious functional impairment that
substantially interferes with one or more major life activities) in the past year also showed higher rates of
hypertension, asthma, diabetes, heart disease and stroke than did people who did not experience serious mental
illnesses.
Adults experiencing major depressive episodes (periods of depression lasting two weeks or more including
significant problems with every-day aspects of life such as sleep, eating, feelings of self-worth, etc.) had higher
rates of the following physical illnesses than those without major depressive episodes in the past year:
hypertension (24.1% vs. 19.8%), asthma (17% vs. 11.4%), diabetes (8.9% vs. 7.1%), heart disease (6.5% vs.
4.6%) and stroke (2.5% vs. 1.1%).
The report also shows significant differences in ED use and hospitalization rates in the past year between adults
with mental illness in the past year and those without. For example, 47.6% of adults with serious mental illness
in the past year used EDs, as opposed to 30.5% of those without past-year serious mental illness. Adults with
past-year serious mental illness were more likely to have been hospitalized than those without (20.4% versus
11.6% respectively).
“Behavioral health is essential to health. This is a key SAMHSA message…[read more]

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April 29, 2011

Confessions of a Psych Nurse

Here is an article I found on NurseTogether that absolutely blew me away.  As a psych nurse for over 20 years, I can empathize and sympathize with this author.  She speaks my thoughts.  It is amazing.  I immediately emailed her for permission to repost this article here for you to read and enjoy.  Won’t you let me know how you feel about the things she has to say?  Please click over to her website and read some of her other posts and maybe leave her a comment while you are there.

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A Nurse Confesses:  There is no way to work on a psych ward of a mental hospital and not learn something about life; I have met some of the strangest and most original individuals.  When people find out where I work, and have worked for almost 22 years, their mouths hangs open in awe.  Most of the time the phrase, “I don’t know how you do it” is mentioned, as they shake their heads.

 I confess there are things about working in a mental health institution that I do not like, and there are times when I have to bite my tongue and keep my lips glued together because I become so agitated.  I thought I would list for you my dislikes and explain later what I have learned.  Deep breath…here I go.

 I dislike when someone comes into the hospital just so they can get a check (aka crazy check) when they are clearly healthy but truly too damn lazy to work.

 I dislike when someone is purely and simply mean spirited and uses their diagnosis of being mentally ill as an excuse to cling to.

 I dislike when prisoners come in and break furniture, hurt the staff, share their rude and unintelligent slurs to the staff and demean them, because they have nothing to lose and will be going back to jail.

 I dislike an addicted individual who tries to use their mental illness to be prescribed Benzo to feed their habit, and then becomes demanding when they are told no.

 I dislike restraining someone in the bed.  It makes my heart hurt to see someone, or have to place someone, in that situation.  Even though I know at the time it has to be done – everything else has been exhausted – sometimes it is necessary to protect the staff and the patient. 

 I truly dislike calling a doctor who blows off the fact that the nursing staff have already tried many measures before calling him in the middle of the night for more help, and he refuses it because he doesn’t think it is needed.  I also dislike that he feels he shouldn’t have to come to the unit to observe what is going on, leaving the staff in harm’s way.

 I dislike a doctor who comes to the unit during a high risk situation and hides behind the female staff for protection.  I am not a shield; I am a nurse with a family, just like he has.

 I dislike staff who forget how blessed they are and that they have a home to go home to, when a patient is crying because they are homesick and cannot return to their home.

 I dislike not being able to help a patient understand what he/she is seeing – climbing the walls is part of their illness and not real – but they can clearly can see something there.

 I dislike looking into someone’s eyes and seeing pain, hurt, and loneliness – lost souls that I cannot help.  I really dislike that feeling.

 When a new patient comes onto the unit, I like to learn about who they are, not who the chart says they are.  I want to know where they used to work, where they went to school, how many brothers and sisters they have, and whether they are married and/or have children.  I have found that when I approach a patient as a person, rather than as a patient, they open up and let down the walls that they come in with.  I get to peep inside of their lives for just a moment.  I dislike when staff forget that the people we serve had a life before they arrived on our unit.  They attended school, had some kind of home, they have a mother, father, wife, husband, and/or children.  We have all made some really crappy choices in life – we may not have landed in jail or in a mental hospital, but there were choices made along our path.

 I confess – my psych patients have taught me a lot about life.  I have not always liked working in chaos and in hazardous and dangerous situations, but I have always liked talking to the ones I meet.  They have showed me that we are all one step away from the admission office when life hands us more than we can bear.  They have taught me that just because I cannot see delusions and hallucinations doesn’t mean they are not real.  They have taught me the feelings of real compassion for another human when they cannot help themselves.  They have taught me that being with family is not always the safest place to be.  At times, families hurt family members deeper than a stranger does.

I confess – my life has been changed by a mentally insane person.  Just think…yours could be too.

About the Author: For the first 5 years online, Angela Brooks spent her time in network marketing e-commerce with health products. In the last year, she has followed her passion where she has worked for over 21 years in the same state funded psychiatric hospital, working in a dangerous acute psychiatric ward.

Angela also runs her own company on the side and supports other nurses in how to bring passion into their role at work. Visit www.AngelaBrook.com.

Click here for more information on Angela Brooks.

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November 25, 2009

The Making Of A Mental Health Professional

Filed under: Nursing — Shirley @ 12:29 am
Tags: , , , ,

As a psychiatric nurse, I naturally read articles about psych. nursing and usually come away with more questions or with feelings of being undervalued.  Here is an posting I found on a blog that I think is excellent in the description of what it takes to be a mental health professional, or just a mental health nurse.

After reading the list, I think these points apply to just about anyone who wants to be in a “helping” profession.

Read the following list and let me know what you think about this.  Is this pretty accurate or not?

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I was thinking of all the common characteristics that make up a good mental health worker in my opinion and came up with the following list:

1. Real Life Experience – No book has ever been written that can truly cover what it is like to be at your absolute bottom, to fight for your own life, to understand the emotional turmoil that shows up when the people who are suppose to love you turn around and stab you in the back. There is good reasons why a high number of drug and alcohol counselors are recovered addicts.

2. The Ability To Empathize – Basically to have a heart. If you are unable to feel what the client is expressing then you have no business being in this field. I am not a book or a diagnosis but a person who would love to be cured but even more important I need you to understand where I am coming from and what I am feeling.

3. The Ability To Think Outside Of The Box – Not everyone with depression or any other disorder is going to respond to the same treatment. This field is not like an office where every time problem A shows up the person uses solution A to fix it. The worker needs to see the situation from every possible angle to come up with the best course of action. The DSM is a book of guidelines regarding a diagnosis not a set of instructions.

4. Nonjudgmental – During on of the first classes I took in college the teacher asked who in the room would not treat sex offenders and child molesters. When a couple of people raised their hands the professor responded “Then you should not be in this field for every single person who has a mental or behavioral problem deserves to be treated and seen as a fellow human being who deserves help”. The ability to see the person behind the illness is essential for if all you see is the problem then nothing will be accomplished.

5. Consistent – A major problem with mental illness is it tends to be chaotic with everything in the persons life in a constant state of change. The worker needs to be a rock instead of another piece in the clients life that is unpredictable.

Well I believe that the above criteria are essential to anyone in the mental health field. Any others? Take care.

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