Advocacy: The Nursing Role in Mental Health
Scholarly Paper Assignment
Zina QasabjiAlgonquin College
This paper was prepared for NSG 2113, taught by Michelle Morley and Susan Ogilvie
The phrase mental illness is connected to many stigmas, and this stigma is due to the way society views mental illness. (Stier, Henshaw, 2007). The negative attitudes and stereotypes towards people with mental illness is one of the reasons as to why individuals do not seek help. It is critical for mental health nurses to address the whole client, including their physical, mental, and emotional health, while taking social factors into consideration. In an article, one mental health nurse states, “Every patient is different, so treatments vary. Our job is to help our patients find the best life they can. We do not necessarily find a cure-sometimes there isn’t one” (Libre, 2018). The focus of this paper will be on this form of nursing, as well as its history, role of the nurse, clients, and contribution to advocacy. Ultimately, advocacy will be linked and applied to mental health nursing as a speciality.
Mental Health as a Nursing Speciality
A nurse is an individual who is trained to care for those who are ill, by providing compressive care that considers the patients social, emotional, cultural, and physical needs using different approaches. A mental health nurse’s role involves the advocacy of mental health, prevention, treatment and to manage mental disorders. “The psychiatric mental health nurse attempts to understand the life experience of the client and uses this understanding to support and promote learning related to health and personal development” (Perry et al., 2014, p.3). Moreover, mental health nurses provide care to individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations. This may involve therapeutic nurse-client relationships; an intimate connection that is formed where profound feelings, beliefs, and thoughts are exposed. Nonetheless, alleviation of stigma and discrimination, understanding and responding to human reactions that may be expressed in a non-verbal way such as; body movement and posture. If nurses can read signs before an outburst and gain understanding of the patient’s behavioral patterns, it can help put the client at ease, build trust, and draw them towards the practitioner.
Mental health nurses have been a central role in the support of the mental health services. However, this has not always been recognized. Mental health nursing first began in the late 19th century. Before asylums became available, the mentally ill were cared for by their families (Perry et al., 2014). Furthermore, there were still challenges as the medical staff were not adequately trained and funding from Canada’s mental hospital was difficult and challenging. During World War Two, there was a rapid increase in female nurses and their roles became more crucial. Following, the healthcare system expanded, more advanced medications became available, and care of the mentally ill diversified (Perry et al., 2014). This demonstrates the evolution and upwards progression of mental health nursing. Thus, mental health nursing can be practised in various settings depending on client needs; nursing practise and education have become more informed and holistic.
Although mental health nursing has come a long way from the 19th century, there are still obstacles to overcome. Such challenges are the constant stigma and discrimination mental health is facing. Nonetheless, the stigmatization of people living with mental health often report feeling devalued, dismissed and dehumanized by many of the healthcare professionals with whom they come into contact. This begins to create barriers and neglects the access to receive quality care and recovery. “These issues create barriers through such pathways as delays in help- seeking, discontinuation of treatment, suboptimal therapeutic relationships, patient safety concerns and poorer quality mental and physical care.” (Knaak, Mantler, Szeto, 2017). Therefore, it is important to educate and alert oneself and others about mental health to help reduce the stigma and discrimination towards it.
Though there are challenges, mental health nursing can be personally rewarding; it is meaningful career, filled with opportunities, challenges, and rewards. The future of mental health nursing has a high survival rate if problems are addressed and solved in a positive manner.
Advocacy is an important concept in nursing, it has been developed to promote human rights of an individual with mental disorders and to reduce discrimination and stigma. Advocacy first began when families of those with mental disorders spoke on their behalves because their voices were not heard. Following, the people and their families were supported by a large spectrum of organizations, many mental health workers, and some governments. “Advocacy is an important means of raising awareness on mental health issues and ensuring that mental health is on the national agenda of governments. Advocacy can lead to improvements in policy, legislation and service development.” (World Health Organization, 2001). Only recently was advocacy considered one of the eleven areas of action in mental health policy because of the benefits that it produces for individuals with mental disorders and their families. This was reached due to the mental health movement. In addition, the mental health movement is a group of individuals and organizations that aim to better services for people living with mental health problems. This significantly influenced and impacted the mental health policy and legislation, led to major improvements in services and better trained and educated mental health nurses efficiently to advocate for their clients. As stated in the Advocacy charter, the role of advocacy is to reassure and speak for those who are most vulnerable. In all form’s advocacy is to defend and safeguard their rights, have their views and wishes genuinely considered, and to educate them about the decisions that are being about their lives. (The Advocacy Charter, 2018).
Advocacy in Mental Health Nursing
Advocacy and mental health nursing are linked through the need to improve the quality of life for individuals with mental health issues. Nurses are the largest health professional group in the country (CAN, 2013). Furthermore, they are trained and educated to assess mental health, prevent, diagnose, and treat those who are in need. As well as, promote wellness and human development through intervention. Mental health nurses are people who have a passion for improving the lives of others. To a mental health nurse, a fulfilling, content and rewarding life is not only obtainable, but a right that every person should attain. A nurse should look at a client in a holistic way to understand their background and reason as to why they are here. By doing so, it will ease the individual to become more comfortable and speak openly without being restricted with the feelings of being judged or discriminated. With all things considered, it’s the nurse’s duty to approach the client and the problem with a holistic approach to ensure safe and efficient care.
In conclusion, throughout this paper advocacy within mental health nursing was discussed by providing the role, history, clients, challenges, rewards, and future of mental health nursing. Advocacy was defined as well its importance in mental health nursing and the Canadian health care system. Finally, advocacy was linked within the mental health speciality. The healthcare system within Canada is broad and nurses are on the field, advocating, researching, teaching, and learning to better the quality of life of all people in Canada.
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