Yesterday my wife and I attended a conference on psychiatric nursing. There were excellent presentations on dementia, borderline personality, depression in geriatric patients, and pre-natal and post-partum depression. We heard a grief counselor talk about helping patients process grief in sudden death events and other complicated grief experiences. It was the first time in several years that I had attended such a conference. When I began my nursing career, I had spent 12 years in community mental health before going into psychiatric nursing. After 2½ years in psychiatric nursing, I moved into cardiac nursing where I have been for the past 12 years (I tell people that since I can do cardiac as well as psychiatric nursing, that makes me a heart-and-soul nurse).
1) It is important for us to be aware of mental health issues and to know where to turn. Here are three good websites to know about in matters of mental health:
Mental Health America at www.mentalhealthamerica.net . This is the largest and oldest organization to help people experiencing mental illness. It was established in 1909 by Clifford Beer, a Wall Street financier and Yale graduate. He had a Bipolar episode following his brother’s death in the early 1900’s. He later wrote a book detailing his experiences in a mental hospital, including being kept in a straight jacket for 21 consecutive days during one episode of his three year hospitalization. He started the National Mental Health Association, now known as Mental Health America, in order for people with mental illness to have a voice in the public square.
The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) at www.nami.org NAMI is an advocacy group “dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.”
The National Institute of Mental Health at www.nimh.gov “The mission of NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure.” This is a comprehensive website that has information on the latest research, treatment and laws relating to mental health. There is also educational information on a variety of mental health topics.
2) One of the presenters recommended a book by Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear. This is a book for and about violence against women. According to the Amazon.com review, “The book teaches how to identify the warning signals of a potential attacker and recommends strategies for dealing with the problem before it becomes life threatening... People don't just ‘snap’ and become violent, says de Becker, whose clients include federal government agencies, celebrities, police departments, and shelters for battered women. ‘There is a process as observable, and often as predictable, as water coming to a boil.’ Learning to predict violence is the cornerstone to preventing it.”
There is too much violence against women in our society. Since I have a daughter who is single and in college, I’m going to get her this book.