Guest post by Brenda Smith, Administrator, Southland Home Health
Mental Health encompasses a wide variety of things, but what does it really mean? In Home Care we deal with mental health is so many different ways, from depression to forgetfulness to full on Alzheimer’s. We may not be able to cure the disease, but we can effectively manage it so it seems as if we did cure it.
I strongly believe that proper education on care is so important for our patients that suffer from mental diseases. Due to the large number of home care patients affected with mental illness, my company established a Psychiatric Nursing Program. This program is designed to help our patients with medication management, disease process teaching and counseling so they become more confident, independent and understanding of what they are facing each day. That is just a small part of what can be done to help our patients battle mental diseases. Teaching the family, caregivers and community about the process also helps create a more stable environment. If the family and caregivers understand the process of their loved ones diseases and how they can be managed effectively, the better the outcome for the patient.
I recently read a story about a woman who fought a mental disease for years until she took her own life. The person who wrote the story in her honor wanted to share her story because of the misinterpretation of the mental disease. After reading it one thing stuck out in my mind was that no one was really educated on her disease and how to help her through the medication changes, disease process and a “bad day”. Why? Was she too embarrassed? Was her doctor not educated enough? What could they have done differently? A big part of the solution is education. We in the healthcare community need to do our part to educate our family, friends and caregivers about mental illness and diseases. One piece of our program allows us to reach out to family, friends and facilities to have a small class to discuss some helpful tips on caring for our patients who suffer from these illnesses and diseases. One of the classes gives tips on how to redirect in sticky situations and motivate for the ones who just want to quit. These helpful tips not only assist those family members on staying calm during tough situations, but also help the patients accomplish their daily goals in a less hostile environment.
The goal of Mental Illness/Health Awareness Week (Oct 4-10) is not only for the people who suffer from a mental disease, but for everyone. We all need to continue to educate ourselves and be aware of the different needs a person may have through their disease process. This includes the person suffering, their family, friends and caregivers. Being aware and involved in your patient’s care needs is essential, as they are and will be ever-changing. Educate. Educate. Educate.