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Behavioral Unit anyone?


Specializes in Psychiatry (PMHNP), Family (FNP). Has 20 years experience.

Is it just me or does anyone else dislike the term "Behavioral Unit?"? To me it conjures up images of training versus healing, as one would train an animal. Where did this term come from? Are we that inclined to come up with an inaccurate term just to dispell stigma? I sincerely doubt anyone is fooled. I like good old fashioned "Psychiatry." Let's call it what it is. Anyone else bugged by this?? :cool:

ITA -- to me, "behavioral health" sounds like all the problems are volitional on the part of clients; they're just choosing to behave this way. I wasn't terribly happy with the switch from "psychiatry" to "mental health," but at least "mental health" still includes some reference to the brain. "Behavioral health" does away with that (any connection to the brain) entirely.


Specializes in Med Surg/Tele/Ortho/Psych. Has 13 years experience.

don't know who comes up with this stuff sometimes.


Specializes in mental health, military nursing. Has 8 years experience.

I agree! Personally, I like Mental Health - Psychiatric makes me think of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", but Behavioral Health is a little too Pavlovian ;)


Has 36 years experience.

I agree, I always have to do some mental interpretation when I hear behavioral health, takes me a few seconds to figure out what the speaker is talking about! Mental health is better. The public and medical/nursing personel continue to give psychiatric nursing and psychiatric patients such a bad reputation! That is the sad part, psychiatric illness in our society is synonmous with "crazed serial killer."

jpRN84, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatric, Detox/Rehab, Geriatrics.

I like the term Psychiatric Nursing, not Behavioral Health Nursing or Mental Health Nursing. It is Psychiatry after all, I never heard of a Psychiatrist call themselves anything else.

We are called the behavioral medicine unit, or BMU. I like it because sometimes it is mistyped BUM:lol2:

Edited by jb2u
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Specializes in psych nursing/certified Parish Nurse. Has 45 years experience.

Why not "life experience recovery" units? Since psychiatric "disorder" is mostly related to life issues (or the effects of poor diagnosis of physical disorder; or an inability to cope with one's life)... and should be based on positive expectations that this person (like all humans) will be able to recover fully and be able to live a meaningful life... with the correct balance of life-corrections and thinking corrections (for which we as psychiatric staff are ourselves responsible so often). How often do we use the unscientific words "chemical imbalance"? How often do we limit our patients by demeaning and unscientific "diagnoses" that we consider "life-long" (since when are WE so prophetic?) How often do we perpetrate "co-erced" admission in one way or another? How often do we co-operate in forced neuroleptic administration (all the time realizing these can be fatal, debilitating physically, and having permanent painful and disfiguring side effects)... or ECT that is either/both involuntary and inadequately discussed as to risks... (even on voluntary units yet!)... or simply followed "doctor's orders" that this is to occur? How often have restraints been used on non-combative patients--or allowed to stay on after a patient has quieted? How often have you seen a psych patient come in an ambulance when this has occurred (restraints without combativeness?) How often have you asked a "combative" patient why he/she is being combative? How often has the psychiatrist or you decided the patient doesn't know enough to participate in treatment decisions? How often have you relied on chart notes and other nurses' evaluations of behavior/words to decide "what the patient needs" (since we ALL make these assessments from our own point-of-view and life experiences). We, as experts in communications, need to know the limitations of words/behavioral observations in assessing patients... they are immense. We simply do not know--even when we think we do--what is going on in the souls of our patients. Therefore, the only correct response can be respect, a dignified assessment, and allowing the patient as much partnership as possible--including whether meds are used or not. There are other ways to treat patients than medicating them... unless they want those out of long-term experience in their own lives. FYI, after much research into a book I'm writing--I found out much from the UN declaration on "torture" in healthcare. Perhaps much of the reason for the observations that there are more psychiatry patients in the ER have to do with the effects of "torture" being perpetrated on individuals through healthcare. No wonder there are so many "combative" patients--they are fighting for their survival! If you are wondering as to my passion--I live in Seattle, home to thousands of stigmatized and damaged individuals on the streets with these diagnoses, a testament to the failure of biological psychiatry. I have "seen it all" in my forty year psych nursing career, as well as having been "victim" to the perpetration of a myth: mental illness. On me, it was a political move for containment... I signed the Mahattan Declaration in this "liberal city"--and fought the "status quo." (the supervisor of defense attorneys for the "involuntarily-detained" in the involved county told me today they are seeing much of this). I was told on admit, I had been reported as a "terrorist". What we perpetrate on others comes back to us one way or another... mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Bless you all--and be wary! The next "psych patient" you treat may be someone like me! Sin also includes that which we do not do--but should have. Love generously and love unconditionally... that is the best "psychiatric treatment" of all.


Specializes in mental health, military nursing. Has 8 years experience.

Why not "life experience recovery" units?

...I have "seen it all" in my forty year psych nursing career, as well as having been "victim" to the perpetration of a myth: mental illness.

While you and Thomas Szasz may say mental illness is a myth, I'm going to strongly disagree.

To call mental illness a myth devalues the struggles faced by those with mental illnesses. Anyone who has worked in psych knows that, while the system is flawed (perhaps medications are over-used, and the lack of coping skills account for many hospitalizations), there are real mental illnesses with real consequences that cannot be cured with a little free-thinking and love. The treatment of mental illness requires a combination of behavioral therapy, medication (when indicated), and a strong community support system.

Your heart is in the right place, but I think that your reasoning is flawed...


Specializes in psych nursing/certified Parish Nurse. Has 45 years experience.

The word "myth" is understood as to mean "made up" in this society... unaware of its real implications, in spite of Joseph Campbell.

I said in the post clearly: words are very limited--and we, especially as communication nurses, need to be wary of being "too concrete" (the reason for the length of the post--but I also realize so many of us skip reading deeply into what is being said, if it is lengthy).

What we do to each other in the way of limiting people was my point: the whole idea of "illness" can be very limiting... especially as we use it today in psychiatry.

In no way did I negate the difficult journey of life--you have apparently not read all my posts (I guess there should be no reason why you should--but, like the "usual" take of people--assumptions are made all too often on flimsy evidence--another point of my article "the Spiritual Emergency"). Apparently you didn't see all my references to the hundreds of thousands of people on the streets--having failed at "biological psychiatry" (or was it the other way around?) You think, after working in over twelve treatment facilities and for thirty years all over the country I am a fool? I am as guilty of perpetration of false theories and treatments as the next psych nurse--don't think I haven't spent a great deal of energy and time processing all that (including three separate confessions at the request of my confessor). I'm sure you are feeling my "heat" right now... in spite of the healing that occurred in those confessions/my heart is bleeding and breaking.

Many of the posts I see asking for info about psych nursing in the Washington State threads deal mostly with pay scales, and how "good" the atmosphere feels at the hospitals--in order to choose where to work. Frankly, it is this kind of attitude amidst nurses that will never allow us our full potential as "patient advocates".:redbeathe