One aspect of this winter term of our junior year is spent learning more about mental illness. We have a few different modalities to help us think about what we already view mental illness to be; how other people in the community might view it; and what the medical community has to teach us about the area of study. When it comes to learning new subjects about groups of people, it is always important to first stop and think about what you feel.
Working and going to school in downtown Portland for 10 years, I had seen many individuals talking to themselves out loud, and sometimes angrily, usually appearing homeless. Would I approach them? Would I cross the street for my own perceived safety? Would I give them money? These are the types of thoughts that come up in our forums. We watch movies, have assigned readings, and get case studies to help us think about how we are going to deal with this when we work with these individuals during our careers
One film we have watched so far, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, depicts Mental Health Nursing in a pretty poor light. The facility was apparently similar to how many Mental Health hospitals were ran during this time period. One of the questions asked in our forums was if this was your only exposure to individuals with a mental illness, what sort of view would you have of this population? This is a very important question, for many people in society get spoon fed their views through social media. Knowing this helps one to understand where stigma can begin, and how people can pass judgment without any personal experience.
The discussion that is generated in our forums and in class is helping me as I go out into Home Health this term and see individuals with different varying degrees of anxiety and schizophrenia. Knowing more about my comfort zone, beliefs about this population, and the stigma that these individuals carry with themselves throughout the day helps me to better care for my patients. My goal as a nurse is to help educate other people that I meet in the community, and to challenge their false perceptions about these individuals that are struggling to be accepted in their day to day lives.