I read Andy McNicoll’s Mad World blog on the Community Care website regularly. One of his latest posts is entitled ‘20 commandments for mental health workers’; the commandments were put together by Twitter user @nurse_w_glasses, a community mental health nurse (www.communitycare.co.uk/blogs/mental-health/2013/04/20-commandments-for-mental-health-social-workers).
Here are the 20 commandments for mental health workers in full:
- Thou shalt respect your patient and not judge
- Thou shalt increase the well-being, opportunities and happiness of your patient
- Thou shalt be in time for appointments and phone calls. It will show your patients that they matter
- Thou shalt have a well-chosen and well-timed sense of humour
- Thou shalt reconsider your ‘professional distance’ if it makes your patient feel he stands alone; show that you are a person too
- Thou shalt not let your bad mood or personal issues influence your professional attitude
- Thou shalt have an open conversation if your patient is suicidal and give good support and protection if necessary
- Thou shalt not hide behind a newspaper on the ward or make any other unapproachable impression otherwise
- Thou shalt not hide and chat in the nurses’ offices but be with your patients as much as possible to create a safe and friendly environment
- Thou shalt consider family and good friends of your patient as team players (unless it’s impossible) and support them well in the interests of your patient
- Thou shalt inspire and support your colleagues to make mental healthcare as good and friendly as possible and ask and give feedback on a regular basis to become a ‘winning team’
- Thou shalt inform your patient well about side effects of medication, observe well and help to find solutions if needed
- Thou shalt not avoid the subject ‘sexual side effects of medication’
- Thou shalt help your patient to get good dental and physical care and support them on doctor and dentist visits if needed
- Thou shalt help and support your patient to exercise on a regular basis to increase their health and give support to decrease smoking.
- Thou shalt support your patient to overcome financial or housing problems and fight bureaucracy
- Thou shalt listen well to the patients’ aspirations for their life and give support to achieve them
- Thou shalt stand up for the rights of your patient
- Thou shalt fight the stigma of mental illness at every opportunity
- Thou shalt help your patient to keep up hope.
If only the 20 commandments were currently adhered to within mental health services … We can keep dreaming of what could be seen as utopias and keep fighting for them…We can keep nurturing the longing for a more humane and compassionate mental health system…AMEN!