The mental health debate has been long pushed to the back in many countries and organizations. The stigma enveloping mental health has become a part of every community. However, people who have any mental illness or battle any addiction suffer the most at the hands of stigmas. They generally develop an innate feat that the society and people they love will look down upon them and consider them weak because of their shortcomings. This fear cripples their lives to the point that they deliberately reject any aid for their problems.
Additionally, the healthcare environment is not entirely supportive or understanding of patients with mental health issues and different addictions. Stigmas in this environment can have severe effects, as they usually result in substandard healthcare services. These adverse effects come as a cherry on top of the isolation and shame such patients face. Hence, the topic of this article is to discuss ways that the healthcare sector can reduce mental health stigma.
- Introduce open discussions
Anything that people consider shameful to talk about openly becomes taboo eventually. The only way to break such a taboo is by openly discussing the problem. When it comes to mental health issues, open discussions can help people understand the underlying issues. Once people learn that mental health issues are illnesses similar to other diseases, their stigma will diminish.
Discussing a topic as grave as mental health stability also normalizes the aspect and makes it seem more acceptable. For example, while it may seem highly shameful for a person to overdose because of their mental health issues, talking about it can persuade them to seek help.
- Introduce mental health nurses in various facilities
It is common to have mental health doctors at psychiatric offices dealing with the ailing, but nurses are rare in such places. Today, nurses are further advancing their skill set and venturing into various healthcare domains with specializations up their belt. Apart from the crucial duties of a doctor, nurses play a significant role in helping mental health patients recover from their illnesses. Given their expert emotional intelligence capabilities and clinical research work, they are well-versed in handling patients suffering from mental issues. Such capabilities allow them to battle and eliminate mental health stigmas and address prevailing issues. Suppose this compels you to wonder how to become a mental health nurse and play your part in the fight against mental health problems. In that case, you will have to earn the registered nurse license through a bachelor’s in nursing, then the NCLEX-RN exam, followed by certification. Those willing to further advance and propel their careers should opt for a Master of Science in Nursing.
When more nurses opt for this profession, they can help strengthen the nurse-patient bond and provide mental and emotional support. The fight against mental health stigmas requires nurses to lead the battleground with their soft skills and exceptional expertise.
- Educate the staff
Every healthcare member plays a vital role in determining the quality of service a patient receives. Hence, any issue with a staff member can cause a problem with the patients. Therefore, healthcare facilities must take initiatives to educate the staff about mental health issues and coping strategies. Educating them about the importance of mental health and its role in patient recovery can help you create a positive work environment. Having a supportive environment makes the ailing feel less deprived and dysfunctional. Thus, they recover quickly and feel more satisfied with the services.
Healthcare facilities can include these aspects in the regular briefings to help the staff stay on board with vital healthcare services.
- Establish equality between physical and mental illness
Mental illnesses can cause many physical diseases. For example, stress can cause hypertension, muscle spasms, backache, shoulder pain, headaches, etc. Anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as spasms, headaches, dizziness, stomach ache, digestive issues, etc. So, it is evident that mental health issues have as much of an impact as any other disease. Therefore, encouraging the hospital staff to take mental health issues just as seriously as physical illnesses can help establish a supportive work environment. It will also help the patient feel more comfortable sharing the psychological and physical distress they face and receive appropriate treatments.
- Encourage the show of compassion
People battling mental health issues cannot function normally and live out a vigorous life. If you dismiss the patient’s emotional state and focus only on physical symptoms, you might make matters worse. Since mental health problems aren’t visible like physical ones, healthcare providers often miss the need to show tenderness.
Dealing with mental health issues requires compassion and empathy. Treating patients with lenience can help them recover from their health issues quickly. It also helps make them feel more welcome and helps them connect with the healthcare service provider profoundly.
- Discourage self-stigma
Patients are not the only ones facing stigma related to mental health issues in the healthcare sector. For instance, nursing is one of the most draining and hectic jobs in the industry. Many nurses and other healthcare service providers experience emotional and physical burnouts, leading to frustration, lack of energy, and agitation. Helping healthcare workers cope with mental issues such as burnout is crucial to ensuring optimal healthcare delivery. Hence, facilities must take the initiative to discourage self-stigmatization in individuals. If they are draining their mental and emotional capacities, they deserve respect and help.
Mental health stigmas are gradually but steadily dissolving in many industries. Yet, the healthcare sector happens to be the one in which people face drastic consequences to these stigmas. For eliminating them and introducing a more supportive healthcare experience, policymakers must actively work to demolish these stigmas.