Nurses provide the human side of healthcare and can explain problems in a way doctors often fail to do
A few years ago, I was suffering with psychosis and was admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act. I remained there for nearly two months. At the time I didn’t realise I was ill, despite hearing voices and experiencing major delusions. I have encountered many healthcare professionals since that time, but it has been the regular support from mental health nurses, especially out in the community, that has really kept me well, more than medication or appointments with psychiatrists or therapists.
A psychiatric ward can be a scary place for a patient; the nurses I came to know while living on the ward became beacons of stability. They encouraged us to get involved in activities; they chatted to us about mundane things; they didn’t press us on our delusions or misconceptions. They gently reinforced a day-to-day normality. One nurse brought in her manicure kit with over 30 polishes and painted our nails for us. Another organised meetings where patients could air their grievances and suggestions for improving the ward. At the time, my delusional mental state convinced me they were all actors and that I was in a fake secure unit. In contrast, I thought the psychiatrists were really military interrogators, based on my meetings with them.
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