Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing
There is no one precise definition of mental health, as it is shaped by varying beliefs and values across diverse cultures. The most basic and universal definition of mental health is that it is the state of total cognitive, behavioral, and emotional wellbeing. Mental health is an essential component of our health and impacts our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The World Health Organization defines mental health as “the state of wellbeing in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” WHO’s definition lays more emphasis on describing mental health as constituting more than the mere absence of a mental condition.
Advancements in Mental health have come a long way. Even then, mental health still remains one of the most widely misunderstood fields in healthcare, with numerous misconceptions revolving around mental health issues and people suffering from mental conditions. Surprisingly, the long-held stigmas continue to persist in the society to date despite the fact that one in every five Americans live with or will develop a mental health condition at least once in their lifetime. A report by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) showed that in 2017, about 11.2 million Americans were living with severe psychological conditions.
Mental health conditions encompass a wide range of disorders. However, similar to most mental health disorders is that they impact mood, thinking, and behavior. Mental health disorders range from common and less severe condition like stress, anxiety and depression to more complex conditions like schizophrenia, personality disorders, eating disorders, autism spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, and addictive disorders. Mental health can lower the quality of life significantly by impacting the social life of an individual. Also, mental health does not only affect the patient but family and friends who live with and care for the patient.
Among the fields in healthcare involved in mental health is psychiatric nursing. This particular specialty of nursing focuses on providing holistic care to mental health patients with the goal of promoting their physical and psychosocial wellbeing. Apart from diagnosing and treating health disorders, psychiatric nursing emphasizes integrating interpersonal relationships as a therapeutic tool in the treatment process. Therefore, psychiatric nurses are not only tasked with providing physical care but also providing social support to the patients and their families. Important to psychiatric nursing is the belief that communicating and socializing with mental health patients makes them feel safe and comfortable, which is vital in promoting positive changes.
Ellis, Horace, and Vinette Alexander. “The mentally ill in jail: Contemporary clinical and practice perspectives for psychiatric-mental health nursing.” Archives of psychiatric nursing 31.2 (2017): 217-222.
Keltner, Norman L., and Debbie Steele. Psychiatric Nursing-eBook. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2018.
Kohrt, Brandon A., Emily Mendenhall, and Peter J. Brown. “Global Mental Health.” The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology (2018): 1-10.