Mental health issues have always been surrounded by misunderstanding. While it feels like a concept that’s existed forever, our knowledge of mental health is still in its relative infancy. So how can Doctors avoid negligence when dealing with possible mental health issues?
Depression, schizophrenia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a variety of other sicknesses of the mind are still poorly understood by both medical professionals and the general public.
And nowhere are misunderstandings more dangerous than in clinical practices. Failing to grasp the severity of a patient’s mental condition can be a literal question of life and death.
The poor treatment of patients in hospitals and care homes is seldom out of the news, yet most doctors and nurses don’t perform poorly out of malice – instead, they’re ignorant of the consequences of their actions.
No matter what their excuse, their negligence could lead to long lasting damages for the institutions they’re working in.
With poor treatment comes a clinical negligence claim, one after the other. And if these dodgy doctors and ill-informed nurses are allowed to continue practicing, they could lose millions of pounds for hospitals.
To avoid a nasty claims process, the savvy medical professional should brush up on their mental health knowledge. Here are a few basic principles to bear in mind.
Stress causes stress
Medical environments are already stressful. Mysterious people in white coats stalking corridors, physical checks every few hours, the shuffle of the sick being moved for one ward to another – and for anyone with sensitive mental health issues, these stresses and strains could be difficult to cope with.
Anyone caring for easily anxious patients should try their best to make the process as relaxing as possible. Don’t create stressful situations if they can be avoided.
Stress and anxiety are generally underlying symptoms of other mental health issues – so don’t take them lightly.
Any age, any person
It’s easy to shrug off the problems of the young with a firm “get over it”. But youth suicide rates remain at a concerning high. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that 6,233 suicides were registered for over-15s in 2013, 252 more than the previous year.
Males in particular find it difficult to discuss their problems. Just imagine how they’ll feel if they’re shrugged off by the first person they try to open up to – they’ll be an even bigger risk to themselves than if they hadn’t tried.
Be open to the mental health issues of people no matter what their age. You can never be too sure who needs a helping hand.
Check the danger signs
Mental health issues aren’t always immediately visible. They can’t be treated with blood tests or swabs of fluid. Instead, they lurk in the back of someone’s mind, sometimes never making themselves known unless a patient is asked directly.
But there are warning signs. Fidgetiness, a low mood, complaints of anxiety or a loss of appetite are all key signs for depression. And while they can also be symptoms for other illnesses, the sensible medical professional should always be sure.
There will always be insensitive doctors and nurses in medical institutions. But with an increase in mental health awareness, the pain caused by ignorance won’t be so great.