This semester, I will be spending several weeks participating in a psychiatric rotation for nursing school in units such as stabilization, child and adolescent, and general men’s and women’s units. This week I spent the day in the outpatient substance abuse unit at a mental behavioral health hospital. In the morning, there was a group session of about 20 people in which each person went around the circle and rated their anxiety, depression, pain, and anger, stated their drug of choice, and their primary problem and goals they would like to focus on. Afterwards, there was a lecture in which a licensed professional taught about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain, its effects on thoughts, mood, and behavior, and positive coping mechanisms. The morning ended with a longer and more intimate group session involving around 8-10 people with substance abuse disorders, with ages ranging from 19-60. It was interesting to hear about the different problems in their personal lives which had led them to seek drug abuse, and the vulnerability each individual was exposed to as they expressed their innermost hopes and fears. At the end of the session and during the breaks, I was able to have one-on-one interactions with several patients.
The main patient I spoke to had been admitted several times throughout her life, and reported that her primary issues related to drug abuse and the personal life events leading up to it were negative thinking and ineffective coping mechanisms. I spoke to her about positive thinking and directed her to other resources where she can get help if she needs it. I reminded her that negativity is an inevitable part of anyone’s life, but that it cannot be avoided and must be dealt with because that is what makes us alive and human. I also encouraged her to deal with difficult emotions in positive ways such as journaling, meditation, exercise, and support systems rather than drugs, because those are all a regular part of my lifestyle that keep me feeling peaceful and content despite stressful life situations. We then worked together to further discuss potential solutions to her problems that would be beneficial in the long run even if they seem difficult to do now. Lastly, I spoke with her about the power of the mind and positive thinking, because it is the only (and most important) thing we have control over! When she asked me what my favorite and most useful coping mechanism is for life, I was surprised but did not hesitate to answer “faith”; I told her I attend my religious center about 4-5 times per week, and that this is what keeps me going in the right path in both my spiritual and material life. The highlight of my day was when she actively made plans to attend her place of prayer, practice the coping mechanisms I spoke with her about, and reported feeling better and more hopeful immediately after speaking with me.
|“The sun is outside shining; seems like Heavens not so far away”|
|If physical diseases were treated like mental illness|
*If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness or substance abuse, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to find a resource near you.