Twenty commandments for mental health workers, to make mental healthcare a better place

8 Apr

Ironically my first blog post of any substance is about the fact I’ve been trying to persuade someone else to set up their own blog! Ironic since, having set up this blog in February, I’ve had nothing whatsoever to say that’s been worthy of a blog post.

Nursewithglasses (@Mrgr8) has, however, definitely got some worthwhile things to say, things which Twitter’s 140 character limit just can’t accommodate effectively. I’ve mentioned http://www.twitlonger.com (which I haven’t actually managed to work out myself, though looks useful) for longer tweets. But really her work deserves its own base.

Temporarily hosted on another blog, it would be great if Nursewithglasses could find a home for her own work where she has control of the content without editorial. There’s no need to blog weekly updates: quality of content is more important than volume (really; some blog posts do burble on then peter out). Perhaps in due course she might even want to set up her own website (I’ve suggested http://www.mrsite.com, which has great functionality but is cheap to set up and run). In the meantime, fingers crossed for a blog.

Here follows some more about Nursewithglasses, followed by her Twenty Commandments For Mental Health Workers, then the original 17 which went out on Twitter on 22nd March.

The Twenty Commandments For Mental Health Workers were written by Nursewithglasses (@Mrgr8) with the aim of making mental healthcare a better place. Based in the Netherlands and on Twitter since June 2009, she describes herself thus:

“Community Mental Health worker. Knowing mental health from both sides. Serious if neeed. On a mission to make #MentalHealth-care a better place”.

The 20 commandments arose from the original 17 tweeted by Nursewithglasses on 22nd March, which I favourited & retweeted them immediately.

These have now grown to 20 commandments and are now even better, as follows:

  1. Thou shalt respect your client and not judge;
  2. Thou shalt increase the well-being, opportunities and happiness of your client;
  3. Thou shalt be in time for appointments and ‘phone calls. It will show your client that he matters;
  4. Thou shalt have a well-chosen and well-timed sense of humour;
  5. Thou shalt reconsider your ‘professional distance’ if it makes your client feel he stands alone;
  6. Thou shalt not let your bad mood or personal issues influence yor professional attitude;
  7. Thou shalt have an open conversation if your client is suicidal and give good support and protection if necessary;
  8. Thou shalt not hide behind a newspaper on the ward or make any other unapproachable impression otherwise;
  9. Thou shalt not hide and chat in the nurses’ offices but be with your clients as much as possible to create a safe and friendly environment;
  10. Thou shalt consider family and good friends of your clients as team players (unless it’s impossible) and support them well in the interests of your client;
  11. Thou shalt inspire and support your colleagues to make mental healthcare as good and friendly as possible and ask and give feedback on a regular basis to become a ‘winning team’;
  12. Thou shalt inform your clients well about side effects of medication, observe well and help to find solutions if needed;
  13. Thou shalt not avoid the subject ‘sexual side effects of medication’;
  14. Thou shalt help your client to get good dental and physical care and support them on doctor and dentist visits if needed;
  15. Thou shalt help your client to exercise on a regular basis by taking them for a walk (or run) to increase their health;
  16. Thou shalt support your client to overcome financial or housing problems and fight bureaucracy;
  17. Thou shalt listen well to the client’s aspirations for their life and give support to achieve them;
  18. Thou shalt stand up for the rights of your client;
  19. Thou shalt fight the stigma of mental illness on every opportunity;
  20. Thou shalt help your client to keep up hope.

I certainly wish these had been adhered to when I was on ward and they’d certainly make a difference to my experience of mental healthcare now. So this is a list to be printed off and carried round with you as a reminder of some rules that should help towards compassion in mental health.

Just for the sake of completeness, here are the seventeen commandments for mental health workers as originaly tweeted. They created a real buzz on Twitter and were widely re-tweeted:

1 Thou shalt increase the well being, opportunities and happiness of your client.

2 Thou shalt be on time for appointments (same with phone calls)

3 Thou shalt not hide in nurses offices but be with the patients as much as possible

4 Thou shalt inspire your colleagues to make mental healthcare as good and pleasant as possible

5 Thou shalt help your clients to exercise on a regular basis by taking them for a walk or run

6 Thou shalt inform your clients well about side effects of medication and help to find solutions

7 Thou shalt have a well chosen and well timed sense of humour

8 Thou shalt consider family and good friends of your client as teamplayers (unless impossible)

9 Thou shalt stand up for the rights of your client

10 Thou shalt fight the stigma on mental illness on every opportunity

11 Thou shalt not hide behind a newspaper on the ward or make an unattainable impression otherwise

12 Thou shalt help your client to get good physical care & support him/her on docs visits if needed

13 Thou shalt listen well to the client’s aspirations for their life and support them to achieve them

14 Thou shalt not avoid the subject of “sexual side effects of medication”

15 Thou shalt support family members well. It will also contribute to recovery of your client

16 Thou shalt give feedback to your colleagues on a regular basis in order to become a winning team

17 Thou shalt reconsider your “professional distance” if it makes your client feel to stand alone

For more informative tweets on mental health care (as well as her father’s progress following his recent stroke), follow @Mrgr8.

The end!

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