By Dr. Meredith Throop, Places for People Medical Director
The vital role of nurses in the community mental health setting cannot be overstated.
The need for psychiatric mental health nursing has its roots near the end of the 19th century when it was first considered that patients in psychiatric hospitals should receive nursing care. Mental health nursing has since come a long way!
The first nurses working in the community setting were community health nurses who developed a specialty practice in mental health. They were able to move within the community, were comfortable meeting with clients in their homes or neighborhoods, were competent to act independently, used professional judgment in sometimes unanticipated situations, and possessed knowledge of community resources.
Psychiatric and primary care nursing in the community setting differs markedly from nursing in the hospital. The community setting requires flexibility on the part of the nurse and knowledge about a broad array of community resources. Clients need assistance with problems related to individual psychiatric symptoms, medical concerns, family and support systems, and basic living needs such as housing and financial support. Outside of a traditional clinic or office, the setting is the realm of the client rather than of the health care provider.
Community mental health nursing hinges on enhancing client strengths in the same environment in which daily life must be maintained, which makes individually-tailored care imperative.
Treatment in the community permits clients and those involved in their support to learn new ways of coping with symptoms or situational difficulties. The result can be one of greater self-management and overall empowerment.
At Places for People, nurses are a vital part of providing hope, health and recovery to the people we serve. Our organization currently has 13 nurses on staff, and works with countless more nurses in the community.
We would like to take this opportunity during National Nurses Week (May 6-12) to thank these men and women for all that they do to improve the health of people living with severe mental illness.
We are so appreciative of the unique talents of our nurses, and the exceptional strengths they bring with them to Places for People!