Mental illness is a growing epidemic in today’s modern society. Due to the prevailing societal stigma that exists for this vulnerable population, there is often a huge disparity and lack of empathy present in the care provided for individuals suffering from psychiatric disorders.
As a psychiatric-mental health nurse, I have worked closely with patients suffering from a wide gamut of psychosomatic disorders ranging from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder, and I have discovered that the art of empathy is often a necessity to ensure quality patient care is maintained at all times.
Last month, I was caring for a young girl suffering from major depressive disorder. Based on the report I received from the previous nurse, I discovered that the girl was noncompliant with all her medications as well her treatment at the hospital. When I first met the girl, she appeared extremely depressed and exhibited little to no motivation to participate in her plan of care. Upon closer inspection of her chart, I was surprised to discover that it was her birthday, so I decided to collaborate with my team members to see if we can possibly bring a cake for her to enjoy on her special day. When the cake arrived, I noticed that we did not have any candles so I decided to be creative and use a crayon instead, which worked perfectly since it was also made out of wax. When we went into her room, she was pleasantly surprised to see us standing there with a cake in our hands singing “happy birthday.” Witnessing her smile for the first time brought a tear to my eye because it illustrated to me the importance of treating all patients with the same dignity and respect regardless of their mental illness or diagnosis. After that encounter, I noticed a significant difference in her overall demeanor and we ultimately established a rapport that enabled her to take the medication and treatment she needed in order to regain her sense of well-being.
As a nurse, I have come to realize that patients do not solely rely on medications to get better, but rather on the bond and trust formed between themselves and their designated health care provider. As a result of this realization, I try to make a concerted effort every day to continue to develop not only creative approaches to my nursing care but also empathetic techniques that ensure patient safety and satisfaction is achieved across the patient gamut.
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