In the medical community, the subject of mental health care services in the United States is one that appears to be receiving more and more attention with questions surrounding the appropriateness and level of care that is being provided to patients. More and more individuals are seeking out therapeutic interventions for mental health related issues, but disparities still exist with regards to effective treatment interventions.
For many patients, it may take years before a diagnosis is given, and after which there may be trials of pharmaceutical interventions before one is found that adequately manages their symptoms. Receiving immediate mental health care services not only has an impact on the individual but also on the families, caregivers, and guardians that are involved in their ongoing—and often times lifelong—care. Among the various health care professionals who can play a role in this mission to achieve a desirable therapeutic outcome, nurses continuously play a pivotal role in the proper identification and reduction in the time it takes for patients to receive proper treatment.
The impact of receiving optimal mental health care services can be observed in the functionality and quality of life of the individual. Furthermore, it demonstrates how nurses can be viewed as patient advocates working towards the promotion of mental health services. The outcome of mental health care services that is provided to any given patient is largely dependent on the actions that are taken by the health care professionals who should be aware of the hallmark signs and symptoms that may be associated with a specific psychiatric episode. For example, an individual may present to an emergency room complaining of difficulty sleeping, visual as well as auditory disturbances, and possible mood fluctuations. The presence of both a trained physician along with a psychiatric trained nurse can lead to the immediate identification of these symptoms, diagnosis of what these cluster of symptoms might indicate, and the initiation of an appropriate therapeutic intervention.
Given the time sensitive nature of the event, it is of the utmost importance for the physician as well as the nurse to be mindful of possible diagnoses, but also rule out those that would not be applicable to the patient case. Nurses are becoming trained in the area of psychiatry as a result of the increasing rates of diagnoses as well as the expansion of their scope of practice. This growth in nursing serves to improve the level of care that individuals who present with mental health related issues can receive at any given location.