I interviewed an owner and manager of group homes for adults who suffer from mental illness. He cofounded the company, Pnuma, in 1993, but has been working in the field since the 80’s. To describe how he views therapy for people with mental illness let’s start by defining Pnuma. Pnuma is often defined as breath, wind, air, spirit, or soul, but most importantly the context determines the sense or definition of the word. In this way the two cofounders of Pnuma wanted to create a therapy and environment that would be determined by what the resident needed; not forcing the resident to fit in their model of therapy. Their fluid-like model of therapy is designed to tailor fit each resident.
The group homes use a form a milieu therapy. The staff is trained to understand how much control a person loses after a diagnosis of mental illness; anywhere from not being allowed to drive to potentially not being allowed to use a stove. The staff is informed to be particularly empathetic in this regard and give as much control back ...
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...o suffer from mental illness and ironically believe some to be the most mentally strong people I know. They struggle and constantly fight against dark, negativity created by their own minds that is invisible to everyone around them and despite this fight they have the capacity to love, and impact their families and communities. This humbling experience will affect the type of nurse I become.
Adults who suffer from mental illness, like schizophrenia, have many hurtles and hardships to overcome, but their mental illness does not define who they are or what they are capable of. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves and the public as much as possible to break the walls of stigma that have been built upon misinformation. We, as nurses, have a duty to be the best advocates we can be by building relationships and trust among those who suffer from mental illness.
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