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Mental health


I'm a 4th year nursing student and I really love nursing however I have a concern. Do you think it's unethical to choose mental health just because it was funny as hell. when I did the rotation last semester I laugh my ass off everyday, the things that come out of patients mouth was just hysterical. I am sympathetic towards mental health patients and I personally thought I would hate it before I went but that was far from the truth. But now I am back in school and I'm missing those patients. So uhm do you think it's unethical to laugh at patients?

MrChicagoRN, RN

Specializes in Leadership, Psych, HomeCare, Amb. Care. Has 30 years experience.


What you describe is unprofessional and lacking empathy. It's not funny as hell to those experiencing chronic mental illness. But for many, it certainly is hellish.


Specializes in ER/Emergency Behavioral Health.... Has 8+ years experience.

The fact that you even say that shows that you lack the compassion to work in that field.

I don't think it's a good thing to "laugh at patients". I think it's ironic that you are worried about ethics while writing what you did. I'm not laughing.

LadyFree28, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Rehab, Trauma. Has 10 years experience.

Are you going to "laugh your ass off" when you get a pt in Med Surg with a documented mental health condition?

People with mental illness don't "turn off" when they are in the hospital; mental illness is just as important as someone having diabetes; you have to treat the whole pt holistically; "laughing your ass off" is neither empathetic-sympathy is not even an appropriate measure when engaging with pts btw, it's empathy-nor helpful to your practice.

Put yourself in a pts shoes; would you like someone to laugh at you when you have a thousand voices coming at you, pulling you in different directions and you can't control it? Or you have no sense of worth and can't even get out of bed, let alone eat? Or you feel that all is lost and the only way to ease your pain was to end it all? Is that funny?

I'll wait.


Specializes in Forensic Psych. Has 2 years experience.

Not sure if serious.


Specializes in public health, women's health, reproductive health.

Do you think it is unethical to choose mental health just because it is funny as hell?

Yes I do.

VivaLaVespaGirl, BSN, MSN

Specializes in ED, Medicine, Case Management. Has 5 years experience.

My hope is that the OP was having a difficult time articulating what he/she meant...Rather than "laughing his/her ass off AT the patient" my assumption is that Ackeem was able to see the humor in some of the situations when reflecting back on his/her day. While those who have mental health and psychiatric issues are certainly suffering, I have no doubt that some of what happens may, in fact, be amusing. I read a book by Oliver Sacks called "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" and while some of the injuries/illnesses he recounted were clearly quite devastating, there was a certain humor in the manifestations of their conditions. I can see working in psych being fascinating, dreadful, and possibly entertaining at times.

My mother has (had... ) severe mental illness. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia, bi-polar, and manic-depression among other in-between diagnoses. So speaking as a person with a loved one who fought her entire adult life with this affliction, I can say that your reasons for wanting to go into mental health are pretty offensive. So I am wondering which part of her illness would have been funniest to you, the part where she didn't sleep for days, went out and spent money our family didn't have, slept with strange men (manic high), or the part where she would cry inconsolably for days, pace the room not able to stop moving, and then finally turn her wrists into hamburger with a straight razor (manic low)? Just remember that these patients who are sending you home reeling, laughing your ass off, have families, loved ones, children, and they themselves are human with intense suffering, don't even get me started on the stigma of even having a mental illness. It destroys relationships, damages family, and inflicts deep psychological wounds on everyone involved. While I agree mentally ill people can do and say some funny things, like the time my mother shaved her head because she was having a bad hair day (true story), their mental illnesses are crippling, not only to the patient, but to their families, and your desire to specialize in mental health so you can "laugh your ass off" at patients says a lot about you and your character.


Specializes in Cardiac. Has 1 years experience.

You're an idiot for even posting this, in my opinion. Wow.

HappyWife77, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gerontology RN-BC and FNP MSN student. Has 21 years experience.

I smell a troll.......

VivaLaVespaGirl, BSN, MSN

Specializes in ED, Medicine, Case Management. Has 5 years experience.

I smell a troll.......

I think a troll would have responded to our comments. OP has not. Perhaps the OP would like to clarify his/her statements? I have a hard time believing that someone who is in their 4th year of a nursing program truly lacks that much empathy and just poorly articulated their question.

Uhm sorry if I offended anybody, that was not my intent. I was very empathetic towards my patients i never undermine their conditions and I never found *the sad things they did funny, such as the insomnia, excessive crying, manic episodes etc. What I did find amusing and whether you guys like it or not were some of the delusions particularly the grandiose delusions. When patients were telling me to bow to them because they were the queen of Naria I found that amusing, anybody would, I mean I'm 21. Not only that but some of the patients were just plain funny like I said some of the things that came out of their mouth was just funny, for example one morning when I was doing a MSE a patient told me she didn't ate breakfast because the meatballs was so hard you could of stone an ancient day prisoners with it. She had pressured speech so the way she said it was so funny, does this make me a bad person or an incompetent nurse? I never found someone going *manic funny, and I never found a Patient exhibiting hallucinations funny whether tactile, visual, or auditory. My patients loved me, maybe because I wasn't all stiff and serious like the other RN's and student nurses, I readily engaged in occupational therapy and group therapy everyday with them, I interacted with all the patients and I didn't take anything too serious even when a patient threaten to smite me because I didn't pray to her as she was God and could strike me down at any moment. But if finding some aspects of their condition amusing makes me a bad person then I guess I can live with that.

Edited by Ackeem

MrChicagoRN, RN

Specializes in Leadership, Psych, HomeCare, Amb. Care. Has 30 years experience.

Of course, sometimes patients say amusing things, and sometimes they say things revealing great psychic pain, but neither of your posts address that.

They are not in the hospital in order to create some 3 dimensional, theater in the round, sit-com for your entertainment.

They are sick people, hospitalized because they are unable to function outside the hospital. Sometimes at risk of death.

You're obviously amused....but are you therapeutic? :bored:

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

I wish I could find something redeeming about this thread, but as someone who suffers from mental illness I just can't.

PLEASE don't go into psych nursing. Should I ever be hospitalized, I would hate to think something I said or did while manic would serve my nurse as entertainment.

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

As you can see, Ackeem you have struck a nerve in many posters.

our pts regardless of the reason you encounter them, are to be provided compassionate care. They are not there for your enjoyment.

Edited by traumaRUs

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 10 years experience.

This is the kind of stuff I was talking about in the Robin Williams thread. NO ONE would ever come on here and say "I want to be an Oncology Nurse because I think cancer is funny" yet it's somehow acceptable to laugh at psychiatric patients? Are their illnesses any less real or severe than physical illness? It's not funny that someone believes that she is the Queen of Narnia, it is incredibly sad. Please do not go into psychiatric nursing.

ETA- I've seen my fair share of patients over the years who said things that could be perceived as "funny" if they weren't a sign of a serious illness. I once had a teenager with a severe head injury tell me he was in "some sort of Chinese restaurant" when I asked him if he knew where he was. When the CNA was washing him up, he said "Michael Jackson is washing my back." We did not laugh at him. He had a severe injury, his friend was dead and he didn't know it. Later that same day, his Dad came to visit and he didn't know who he was. He demanded his father show identification and even after he did, wouldn't acknowledge that it was his father. He punched his mother in the face one day. Nothing about his situation was funny.

Edited by KelRN215