20 commandments for mental health workers…

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.

Here are the 20 commandments for mental health workers in full


  1. Thou shalt respect your patient and not judge
  2. Thou shalt increase the well-being, opportunities and happiness of your patient
  3. Thou shalt be in time for appointments and phone calls. It will show your patients that they matter
  4. Thou shalt have a well-chosen and well-timed sense of humour
  5. Thou shalt reconsider your ‘professional distance’ if it makes your patient feel he stands alone; show that you are a person too
  6. Thou shalt not let your bad mood or personal issues influence your professional attitude
  7. Thou shalt have an open conversation if your patient is suicidal and give good support and protection if necessary
  8. Thou shalt not hide behind a newspaper on the ward or make any other unapproachable impression otherwise
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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’
  12. Thou shalt inform your patient well about side effects of medication, observe well and help to find solutions if needed
  13. Thou shalt not avoid the subject ‘sexual side effects of medication’
  14. Thou shalt help your patient to get good dental and physical care and support them on doctor and dentist visits if needed
  15. Thou shalt help and support your patient to exercise on a regular basis to increase their health and give support to decrease smoking.
  16. Thou shalt support your patient to overcome financial or housing problems and fight bureaucracy
  17. Thou shalt listen well to the patients’ aspirations for their life and give support to achieve them
  18. Thou shalt stand up for the rights of your patient
  19. Thou shalt fight the stigma of mental illness at every opportunity
  20. 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!