Nursing Notes

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?


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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