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Social Stigma Essay

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“Stigma is a “collection of negative attitudes, beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors that influence the individual, or general public, fear, reject, or avoid, be prejudiced, and discriminate people” (Varcarolis, 2013, p. 18). Mentally ill patients are encountered in all settings. Many of these setting are non-psychiatric in nature and are staffed by nurses that do not have extensive training or comfort in dealing with seriously mentally ill patients. Individual stigmas and attitudes that nurses have regarding mental illness can have a direct effect on the level of care given to these patients. These stigmatizing attitudes toward the mentally ill can have very harmful effects on the individual themselves and their families. The negative attitudes result in social isolation, reduced opportunities, and the lack of self worth (Varcarolis, 2013, p. 18). Nursing graduates need to understand that psychiatric patients appear everywhere, not just in psychiatric settings. Knowing how to properly and appropriately care for them is vital to giving the best care each patient deserves. The challenges of social stigmas about mental illnesses affect graduate nurses in developing a therapeutic relationship, and need to adjust and implement appropriate nursing interventions.
Many graduate nurses will seek jobs in traditional medical settings. Theses settings can include the emergency department, long-term care, outpatient clinics, medical-surgical inpatient floors and intensive care units. Graduate nurses must remember that they will at some point encounter a patient that is also diagnosed with a mental illness in any of these settings. It is imperative that the nurse feel competent in his or her ability to asses and treat these patients. The gradua...

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...being able to deliver care. If the mentally ill patient starts to show signs of agitation or being overwhelmed, the graduate nurse may need to stop and wait to finish. The graduate nurse’s ability to rely on observations and recognize behaviors that will interfere with providing care will ensure that the nurse-patient relationship that has been established remains therapeutic and facilitates positive patient outcomes. “Approach me with an open heart and slow your energy down. Take your time.” from Jill Taylor’s book My Stroke of Insight is the best summation on how a nurse should approach providing care to a patient with a mental illness as quoted in the article Psychiatric Comorbidities in Med/Surg (Carol Boylan, 2013) .
Conclusion…..”You don’t have to be a psych nurse to encounter patients experiencing psychiatric emergencies”. (Marlene Nadler-Moodie, 2010)
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