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Challenge for mental illness

Specializes in Med-Surg, Oncology, Neurology, Rehab.

Since everyone is doing the challenge for ALS, why not start something similar for Mental illness.

KelRn made a point in the nurse forum about how so many do not seek help for mental illness. Maybe not an ice bucket challenge but someone is creative out there who can come up with an excellent idea. Let's us nurses bring awareness to this often stigmatize illness, and let others know it is ok to seek help.

JustBeachyNurse, RN

Specializes in Complex pediatrics turned LTC/subacute geriatrics.

A few of my friends were challenged. They declined the ice bucket and instead donated. One donated to St Jude (one of Robin Williams preferred charities), one donated to Alzheimer's association and one to the suicide prevention hotline. I think it's great that ALS has received $4 million in a few weeks but I like that others are aiming for charities personal to them

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

If we're going to raise awareness of mental illness, we need to start with our own profession.

It is not easy to be a nurse with mental illness. Not only are we vulnerable because of our condition(s), but our superiors and even our peers can be very, very judgmental if we are "out". It's been said many times, but if a nurse has a physical illness such as cancer, no one would think twice when she feels lousy because of her chemotherapy. Same with a nurse who has diabetes: nobody would even look at her sideways when she checks her blood sugar in the break room and injects herself with insulin. But if she asks for a couple hours off in the middle of the day because she's unwell and needs to see her psychiatrist, it's as if she's sprouted three heads.

Of course, this sort of frankness in the workplace doesn't happen very often because we've been trained to just suck it up and deal. I made the mistake of disclosing my bipolar disorder to my employer when I had a particularly heinous manic episode in the summer of 2012. Then in the spring of 2013 I had a bad mixed episode which nearly landed me in the hospital, and two days after I returned from a medical LOA, I was told that the accommodations my doctor and I had requested were "unreasonable" and I had to do the job without them.

Well, obviously I couldn't or I wouldn't have gone off the deep end in the first place, so they let me go. My next job, at a nursing home where I had a lot of friends who knew about the BP, wasn't much better, and my very part-time hours were reduced even further when I went through a brief period of illness. I would prefer to think they were trying to help me, but being even more stressed out over lack of an income only made things worse. And all this happened in an industry which prides itself on its "compassion".

That's why I say we need to educate nurses and students first, before we try to take the message to the larger world outside our ranks. I think it's a noble idea and will throw my not inconsiderable weight behind any effort nurses make to help the mentally ill and the people who care about us. We just have to start with ourselves. :yes:

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi.

Hello. Yes, I made that point on the Robin Williams thread. I do not think anyone is going to go on facebook and dump a bucket of ice water over their head to raise awareness for depression or suicide though both affect exponentially more Americans than ALS. As I said on the other thread, I do believe that ALS deserves the attention it is getting, it is a terrible disease and someone I graduated from college with had a hand in starting this challenge. But I also do believe that, in 2014, we can do better with education and understanding of mental illness. And I agree that it is lacking even in the medical professions. I've heard so many ignorant comments from colleagues over the years. And I'm guilty of not fighting the stigma, myself. I have no problems sharing with colleagues or whomever that I had a brain tumor and the chronic health problems that I have as a result of it/surgery. Significantly fewer people know of my past struggles with depression, suicidality, anorexia/bulimia and self-injury. And, I'll be honest, I'm not really interested in sharing that part of my life with anyone who doesn't already know because there WILL be judgment.

LadyFree28, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Rehab, Trauma.

If we're going to raise awareness of mental illness, we need to start with our own profession.

It is not easy to be a nurse with mental illness. Not only are we vulnerable because of our condition(s), but our superiors and even our peers can be very, very judgmental if we are "out". It's been said many times, but if a nurse has a physical illness such as cancer, no one would think twice when she feels lousy because of her chemotherapy. Same with a nurse who has diabetes: nobody would even look at her sideways when she checks her blood sugar in the break room and injects herself with insulin. But if she asks for a couple hours off in the middle of the day because she's unwell and needs to see her psychiatrist, it's as if she's sprouted three heads.

Of course, this sort of frankness in the workplace doesn't happen very often because we've been trained to just suck it up and deal. I made the mistake of disclosing my bipolar disorder to my employer when I had a particularly heinous manic episode in the summer of 2012. Then in the spring of 2013 I had a bad mixed episode which nearly landed me in the hospital, and two days after I returned from a medical LOA, I was told that the accommodations my doctor and I had requested were "unreasonable" and I had to do the job without them.

Well, obviously I couldn't or I wouldn't have gone off the deep end in the first place, so they let me go. My next job, at a nursing home where I had a lot of friends who knew about the BP, wasn't much better, and my very part-time hours were reduced even further when I went through a brief period of illness. I would prefer to think they were trying to help me, but being even more stressed out over lack of an income only made things worse. And all this happened in an industry which prides itself on its "compassion".

That's why I say we need to educate nurses and students first, before we try to take the message to the larger world outside our ranks. I think it's a noble idea and will throw my not inconsiderable weight behind any effort nurses make to help the mentally ill and the people who care about us. We just have to start with ourselves. :yes:

Well said.

I think the ONLY time I was able to get off to see my psychiatrist was with an employer that was a family business; once I was employed at other places, it was a challenge.

I too "outed" myself with PTSD at the job after working with the job that was accommodating and was given a "not a good fit" during a period where the stress and insecurity was so much that I was reliving moments, I was unstable due to the "sink or swim" nature, I'm not blacklisted, thank goodness because I did show more competently, but just ended up flaming out; and I do take my part in it very seriously; enough to have realized I do need more monitoring and not just counseling alone was going to help; I also have a mood-disorder trait in my family-bipolar and depression are on both sides of the family; my father also has PTSD due to his family issues and being a Vietnam Vet, and has never fully recovered from his own traumas.

My silver lining is that I am successfully coping high-stress situations now; not without the help of meds and back to seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist for medication management; I can't "will" my mental health issue-I've tried in the six years I had it; I only can look up, even though I may never disclose it; mental health illness is not a shadow in my life any longer.

I knew I needed to get help; I had to get back on medication; without my meds I can even FEEL the difference; even if I am productive, I can feel the anxiety, the worry and they clash.

May is Mental Health Awareness month; there is also year long awareness and screenings that encompass the Mental Health Spectrum; I found this list online:

http://www.sdchip.org/media/103664/2014%20national%20observances%20for%20mental%20health.pdf

It would help if more nursing professionals will save the dates and bring this out to the light; it'll probably take generations for this to be accepted, but it doesn't hurt to be supportive NOW. :yes:

I too was discriminated against at my current job by management and our occupational health. They tried to get rid of me, but I won that battle, and I will continue to fight. There does need to be more compassion about mental illness among nurses, and not discrimination and negativity. We need to support each other. "And they think I'm mad!".

ButterflyRN90

Specializes in Renal and Telemetry.

What about raising money for diabetes? I'm writing this as I lie in bed with trace ketones, a blood sugar of 315 and smelling acid somehow. I already corrected so I'm just waiting but I'm desperate for a cure! We also need millions. :/

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