AJN, American Journal of Nursing:
“When Caring for the Body Isn't Enough” by Donna Sabella (Mental Health Matters, February) addresses the increased prevalence of patients with mental health issues and the discomfort nurses outside of mental health feel when treating them.
Contrary to the author's experience, I have observed nurses to be more visibly uncomfortable when providing medical care to a patient with a known psychiatric problem than to one whose psychiatric problem developed during the course of treatment. I believe nurses view the latter to be temporary and therefore more treatable.
I disagree with Dr. Sabella when she says that “In nursing school … the mind often [takes] a backseat to the body.” My nursing education provided a strong foundation in mental health and therapeutic communication, which I credit for my comfort in caring for patients with mental illness. The physical and mental health of patients can't be separated. In order for nurses to be comfortable treating patients with mental illness, they must be given more education.
I applaud Dr. Sabella for providing readers with information about mental illness in this new column and look forward to her upcoming articles about delivering bad news and working with domestic violence patients.
Allison Daly, RN