Friday, 23 March 2012

"Electric Shock" therapy explained!

I read an interesting very recent article explaining how scientists have just worked out how electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) actually works in the brain. Even though it has provided a large proportion of patients with many benefits and helped to improve mood, nobody has known exactly how it works before now!

ECT is where the patient is anesthetised and given a controlled electric current through their brain. Their body may go into spasms, and can sometimes look a bit like they are having a fit. They are injected with a drug that prevents extreme muscle spasms so that there is reduced risk of them hurting themselves during the procedure.

ECT has been found to decrease the brain connections related to depression and cognitive functioning. This is why it can sometimes be dangerous to give ECT to very old people, and some patients can experience memory loss as a side effect after the treatment.

I spent a day on an ECT ward and found it to be very "conveyor belt" like, one patient went in, and when his treatment had finished he was moved along to the recovery ward and another was wheeled into the treatment room straight after. I think I saw 4 patients having ECT and I must admit it did make me feel a bit queasy! One of them twitched quite a bit and it was a bit shocking at first, but I got used to it eventually. It did not take them long to come round from the anaesthetic (about 30 mins after the ECT had finished) and then they had some breakfast and went home.

I would recommend trying to get some ECT ward experience if you are a student nurse as it is quite intriguing!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Last Week of Placement!

Next week is my last week on placement with a Community Mental Health Team and I have absolutely loved it. I'm now trying to get all my written work ready to be signed off! My mentors have been excellent with me and the team as a whole have been very welcoming and supportive.

The things I have achieved on this placement:

Three initial assessments
Initial assessment paperwork
SARN care clustering
GRIST risk assessments
Physical health analysis
Tested several elderly patient's cognitive functioning via the Addenbrookes Cognitive Examination
Been involved in the Consultant's weekly clinic
Discussed patients at two multidisciplinary team meetings
Discharge procedure + paperwork

I think this has been one of the most beneficial placements I have had to date and I will be very sad to leave, I would love to work for them right now!

I have my last placement this summer and I am not sure where it will be!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

My experience of psychiatric wards

I would like to now dispose of many assumptions you may have made about what psychiatric wards are like. Even nowadays, many people think that the patients are drugged up and left to sit and dribble and are spoon-fed! Films such as One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest and K-Pax don't help, and I would like to describe to you how amazing mental health wards can be, and what a therapeutic environment they provide for their temporary residents.

I will begin by stating that currently the government are trying to get rid of mixed wards and only create wards that are either all-male or all-female. I had a 6 week placement on an all-female ward and absolutely loved it. Most of the patients engaged really well with me and one lady even baked me a cake on my last day! This ward had 12 beds, an art room, two lounges, a dining room, a garden with a smoking terrace, a quite room, and several bathrooms and shower rooms along with the spacious bedrooms upstairs. The staff were absolutely brilliant and we frequently took some patients out for a walk (those who were granted leave by the Consultant).

Of course, these wards are psychiatric wards and there will be patients on there who are struggling with their own mental health problems, and sometimes this can escalate into verbal or physical aggression. All staff I have come across have had excellent skills at deescalating these situations.

I think it is important to have a positive view of these places, as you never know if someone you care about may need to visit one for a while, and too many people see it as a negative thing. It is obviously needed by that person at that time, and it is all about providing a safe environment with professionals where they can recover and get back to their homes :)

There is definitely potential for quality of life on a psychiatric ward!

First Post :)

Hello! I have just decided to start this Mental Health Blog, as I would love to share my knowledge and hopefully give some inspiring posts to people who are struggling out there with a range of mental health problems. Here is a bit about myself:

I am a 22 year old girl from the UK. I am in my 3rd year at university studying an Advanced Diploma in Mental Health Nursing. I have one final 12 week long placement and then I will be a qualified mental health nurse!

I have job interviews in May this year, and I can choose my top 3 places to work in this area.

I have had some wonderful placements in all sorts of different environments, and I shall begin my blog with a few reflective posts about what I enjoyed and learnt from my favourite placements!

I will also be popping some self-help posts up, just for anyone to look at really, even if you feel you do not have mental health problems it is surprisingly interesting to take a look at your life in different ways to see why you are who you are today!

I must stress that I am not intending to provide an alternative to professional counselling/therapy, and if you do suffer from mental health issues that are affecting your life please consult your GP!

I look forward to doing some more posts, so I hope you decide to follow me and take a peek at some insights into mental health and how people's minds work!