What are ideas for group activities for people with mental illness?

  1. I'm in my psych clinical and each of the students need to lead a group activity for the patients. One student did stress bingo, meditation, drawing, talking about fears, exercise. it's my time to lead soon and I have a few ideas but I'm worried they won't like it. I thought about doing collages with magazines (but not sure if we can have scissors), decorating picture frames. What are some good ideas?
    Last edit by Joe V on Mar 28, '18 : Reason: capitalization
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  3. by   MN-Nurse
    We did games like pictionary and activities like decorating cookies. (Everyone had a blast with the cookies, it was great).

    I bought a few "koosh" balls for prizes. I should have bought a lot more, but everyone really had a good time.
  4. by   Whispera
    Body language, medication information, nutrition...
  5. by   pattyjo
    Relapse prevention, coping skills, discussion on any local support groups which could be used after discharge (provide meeting times, phone numbers etc).
  6. by   Meriwhen
    In addition to the above, groups games such as Scattegories or Pictionary, music therapy, and how to journal (give them the option to opt out of sharing what they write though)
  7. by   dirtyhippiegirl
    Do you still need some ideas? I'm a pretty well-seasoned former psych patient who is now a nurse -- ideas for what patients actually like doing ---)

    anything where you win stuff. Even little stuff.
    anything not usually scheduled on the unit. As a patient, I always found art therapy to be fun because most units don't offer that. Decorating cookies also sounds pretty cool...
    anything that can be done outside. x2 points if you're in a non-smoking hospital so your psych patients never get to go outside, anyway, now. Staffing levels and all that.
  8. by   phattass
    "Making an early warning signs list", medication management, navigating the ___________system, "making small-talk", symptom management....bonus marks if you make them fun!!!!!!
  9. by   erinadance
    When we did our "group" project for Psyc, I was with two other students working with a diverse patient group, set in the milieu. We did a project on sports/exercise, but any topic having to do with your patients works. We started with an ice breaker passing the ball around and introducing ourselves. We did sports charades, but the patients were wayyy too good at it,(i.e. they were a little bored.) We did some yoga, some deep breathing, and some exercise "simon says". The patients really liked their experience in our group and the staff said it was nice to see the patients laughing and having fun. We didn't know what to expect; we had only been in clinical at the mental hospital for three days! Our "group" was 45 minutes long, and we had to ad lib some to get through the time. I would suggest making it fun, and trying to keep them as involved as possible. Our population had seen many students doing these groups, so they know a little of what to expect. That is not really important, but remember that many of your patients are very intelligent. Don't dumb down anything. Also, some patients may not participate, but they are listening, and might join later. Don't worry about that, it is their illness and your instructor knows it. I am writing this b/c I was looking here for ideas and didn't see many. Good luck!
  10. by   TerpGal02
    When I did psych clinical inpt I did a group with another student on Progressive Muscle Relaxation. It is a VERY effective stress management technique taken out of our stress management workbook. The clients responded really well to it and I even still use it myself. At work we are going to be starting a nurses group soon (I work as a psych RN in the community) but we haven't decided on curricula yet.
  11. by   tothepointeLVN
    Watercolor painting might be fun since your can really express your emotions by pushing the colors into on another. And there are some little quick things you can show to paint trees. You don't need fancy stuff just the little kidsets and you can use regular paper or the postcard size watercolor paper. IDK if you have a budget or not.
  12. by   Jayesse7
    I'm a psychnurse and I LOVE students taking over the one and only task I really stress about. The reason I stress about it is because I am sooooo busy I don't have a lot of time to do groups but I'm expected to anyway even though I ALWAYS get interrupted when I do... but that's another topic.
    First of all: Patients LOVE the snacks but don't overdo it. There are diabetics remember. Sometimes the well meaning students make these incredibly loaded grab bags full of cookies and candy and crap and everybody's blood sugar is sky high. If you just bring some hard candy you'll be a hit and get a big turn-out. If you do any self-sharing type discussion groups, try passing a candy dish for each person who participates. Everytime you participate you can select a piece.
    Collages usually do well and we do allow children's scissors but you have to count them before and after collection. Self-portraits are a favorite of mine... just to see what people draw. And you can win points with the staff if you have patients draw their favorite staff person etc... (I had a schizophrenic patient who couldn't remember her doc's name but she was convinced he had one leg that was substancially shorter than the other. This became completely endearing to all of us since it was not true...but his name was Dr. Shirtlek >>>short-leg?)
    Any craft is fun for them just use non-toxic supplies. If you want something that is a bit more educational you can do match the symptom to the diagnosis games. We did a bulletin board once that featured patient-decorated hot air balloons but in the baskets they had to write 3 wishes. You could modify that to 3 things you know about your mental illness and name the balloon itself with the diagnosis. Or if you don't want to get that deep- you could lighten it to your 3 favorite songs or something about themselves.
    Somebody once had patients decorate socks with colored sharpie markers. That one sort of depends on your resources. Our hospital gives each pt a pair of socks on admission though... so you could ask if you could have enough for each person to decorate. Believe me the hospital wastes so much more money on much less useful things than that they ought to thank you for doing something cheerful for the pts.
    Zumba dvd is a favorite standby for fitness groups. People love to line dance! And make your classmates do the group too.
    I hope this helps.
  13. by   jasrose1782
    Thanks everyone for these ideas!!! I'm an MSW Intern and I'm doing a coping skills/prevention/psychoeducational group in a adult psych unit starting next year and was looking for some idea!
  14. by   VivaLasViejas
    When I was in school I participated in a drumming circle in which there were all sorts of drums. I got down on the floor with the patients and chose a pair of bongos. Soon we all found a rhythm and the sound was amazing! It didn't matter if you were the least bit musical---drumming is relaxing and fun.

    Years later when I was a patient on the same unit, I participated in drumming circle again and I swear it was better for me than the meds. I got to try different types of drums this time and by the end of the session my anxiety was gone. I recommend it highly. Check with the music therapist (if the unit has one) and see if you can lead a drumming circle or other musical group activity.