Doctors get the respect, prestige and authority in hospitals, clinics and medical offices. And, of course, authority lies with them. But nurses are on the front lines in medicine; most of the time they have the first encounter with patients, especially in the mental health arena. Not surprisingly, dealing with patients who suffer so grievously often takes its toll and many nurses develop depression and anxiety themselves. Suicide among nurses is not unheard of and one program addresses the issue.
The Healer Education, Assessment and Referral Program was instituted at the University of California, San Diego Health gives nurses there and other health care professionals a resource for mental health help. HEAR provides anonymous screening for nurses who may be experiencing burnout and the stress disorders that can result. Counseling and behavioral health help is available to them. Over 40% of the nurses who went through the screening were determined to be at high risk for suicide. Timely treatment could prevent tragedy. Sometimes our helpers need help too.
Holistic Behavioral Health for Kids
In Austin Texas, children 6 through 17 with mental health and behavioral issues are being treated at Dell Children's in the Grace Grego Maxwell Mental Health Unit, designed to treat the mind, body and spirit.
Disorders from psychosis and suicidal behavior to depression, drug use and ADHD are addressed in a compassionate inpatient and out patient setting for pediatric mental health. An integrated team of psychiatrists, physicians, nurses, counselors and even dietitians strive to provide healing and wellness that includes partnering with family to achieve the best outcome.
Taking the Chaos out of Crisis
Ajimol Lukose, DNP, RN-BC, director of nursing at Chicago's Swedish Covenant Hospital, was weary of seeing mental health patients spend hours in the Emergency Department. In an admirable move of initiative, Lukose developed a program that reduce LOS (length of stay) by forty percent.
She reorganized the ER by: having psychiatric assessments available at all times, making a separate space for patients who were waiting to be treated for mental health, and devising new protocols for nurses and support staff.
This approach streamlined the mental health care that patients needed while improving the quality of that care, and reducing ancillary costs of sitters and time in the waiting room. Lukose's model has been praised by other practitioners.
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