World Mental Health Day 2017

World Mental Health Day, founded by the World Federation for Mental Health, takes place each year on 10th October and adopts a different theme each time. The aim is to raise awareness about mental health and encourage people to think about ways to support those who are experiencing mental health conditions. This year the focus is on mental health in the workplace.

imageThe World Health Organisation discussed how depression and anxiety disorders are common and can have an impact upon a person’s work life. Stress is a major factor that contributes towards the development of mental health conditions. With increased demand, funding cuts and staff shortages, there is no doubt that nurses and healthcare services in general are under immense stress. Nurses working in hospitals are said to be twice as likely as the general population to have depression.

For some mental health nursing students, having lived experience of depression and/or anxiety is a big part of what motivated us to choose to study for a degree in this field of nursing. Personally I chose this career because of the platform it can hopefully give me to help improve mental health services that I was involved with when I was an adolescent and to promote awareness of mental health using not just personal experience but professional knowledge too.

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Not many health professionals speak out about their experiences of living with mental health conditions through fear of having their capability to support other people doubted. Mental health conditions affect people in the workplace, and healthcare settings are no exception. To reduce the impacts of stress and workplace pressures on mental health it is important for people be aware of the support services available for employees. The NHS Services Directory is a useful tool for locating local places where psychological therapies can be accessed. Offering support can be as simple as asking a colleague how they’re feeling. If we start conversations, we’re closer to ending the stigma.

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Tools of the Trade – Mental Health Nursing

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Assessment or screening tools are key to gathering a whole wealth of information from a client and they can often lead to them opening up about other or underlying issues that may be impacting on their health. How and what they answer can give you insight into their current feelings about things as well as provide a baseline of presentation to record any future changes and used to point towards treatment required. Being able to monitor someone’s recovery progress can help staff encourage and motivate a person, just as being able to monitor someone’s deterioration can help staff adapt treatment and interventions appropriately.

Tools are not always perfect and we have to work with them openly and carefully using them as a guideline to help support the treatment or diagnosis we provide. Below is a short list of the some of the assessment tools you might come across on placement;

The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) – Used for Anxiety & Depression can be used in community as well as hospital. It is a 14 question Psychological screening tool assessing the severity of symptoms.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire (GAD-7) – Screening tool used to measure the severity of Generalised Anxiety Disorder. 7 questions that can be administrated by a health care professional or self-administrated by the client themselves.

The Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) – Commonly used short assessment used for screening for any dementia or cognitive impairment concerns are suspected. It measures cognitive functioning, and can be used to monitor change. 11 item tool taking around 10 minutes to administer making it a quick and useful tool to use.

The Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination (ACE) –  Well validated assessment tool for clinic setting assessment of cognitive functioning. This measures cognitive domains including language, visuospatial, memory and attention.  Usage is usually in part with other screening tests such as blood test, ECG and MRI scan to inform a diagnosis.

The Liverpool University Neuroleptic Side Effect Rating Scale (LUNSERS) – Is a self-assessment tool for measuring the side-effects of antipsychotic medications. Red herrings are included to check the accuracy of the results. The 51 questions are based on true side effects with 10 being false  ones aim to help patients Identify, understand and gain awareness of side effects they could be experiencing.

The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) – A basic screening tool used to pick up the early signs of hazardous and harmful drinking and identify mild dependence and highlight if a need for assisted withdrawal is required.

There are many varied tools assessing risk used by health care professionals in all fields and in  a wide variety of settings. It is important practitioners should take care to always explain what is involved,  how long it will last and how they can help a patient and their treatment.

Using an assessment tool can help uncover more information about a patients situation and help to encourage conversation that could provide valuable information to inform their care is more personalised and help reduce risk.

Keep your assessment tool box handy and help patients access all areas in health care support.smile

Blue Monday?

Its Blue Monday today! Apparently the third Monday in January is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. So are you feeling depressed? How do you know? 

What does it mean to be depressed?         Feeling sad, miserable, fed up?      

How can you tell if you are depressed or just a bit down in the dumps – a bit blue?

Depression can mean different things to different people. What may seem simple and straightforward to one person may just have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for another. People often carry on with daily life often hiding the struggle they face. This can make things harder to cope with and accept or spot. Depression can affect anyone at any time it is not exclusive or discriminative.

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There are many different types of depression such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), postnatal depression and bipolar disorder (manic depression).  Symptoms can range from low spirits, feeling numb, helplessness or isolation to name but a few. You may find you’re not enjoying activities you usually would. You could be funding it hard to concentrate on things, difficulty sleeping or have lost your appetite. Again symptoms may vary from person to person and you may not even realise yourself. It could be that they reoccur or are just persistent.

The cause of these feeling may not be transparent, it could stem from a loss you may have experienced, life changes that are everyday occurrences in general but may have just impacted on you significantly. It may be something that happened a long time ago but feelings have only just resurfaced.

So what can you do if you feel this way or you think someone you know may be suffering with depression?

Self-help – reconnecting with people and talk to someone if possible, you’d be surprised how many people out there are ready to listen and help you if they can.  As they say …

timetotalkttclogo       It is good to talk!

As a friend you can help encourage your friend to seek the right kind of help for them.  Show them you care and be there for them when they need you. Again little things can make a big difference and being patient with them can be important. As a friend or carer you too can seek support and advice from a GP or other appropriate organisations (some of which are listed below). 

Keeping busy is important as breaking the negativity cycle and keeps your mind occupied on other more positive things. Take time to care for yourself. Every little helps and each step no matter how big or small can be a step in the right direction.

Alternative therapies are recommended to medication such as mindfulness or talking therapies. These can be accessed via your local health authority or via your GP or often at community/library centres.  Art or music groups, community volunteering or the new popular colouring books are a great way to help you focus on the here and now.

It is important you seek advice from your GP if possible, they can help you monitor your situation and support your recovery. They may also discuss medication if they or you feel it is necessary. 

For more information please seek professional help, below are some organisations that can also help;

www.mind.org.uk

www.time-to-change.org.uk

www.samaritans.org

https://friendsinneed.co.uk/

www.depressionuk.org

www.sane.org.uk