How safe to you feel working in mental health sector?

  1. I may have an opportunity to leave the nursing home and go into mental health. For someone who works at one, how safe do you feel there? Should I be too worried about people who like to attack people? Thanks. One place is the local hospitals mh facility where my friend works, and the other is a state run facility.
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    About northmississippi

    Joined: Dec '09; Posts: 417; Likes: 169
    from US


  3. by   Sour Lemon
    Quote from northmississippi
    I may have an opportunity to leave the nursing home and go into mental health. For someone who works at one, how safe do you feel there? Should I be too worried about people who like to attack people? Thanks. One place is the local hospitals mh facility where my friend works, and the other is a state run facility.
    I feel as safe on my behavioral health unit as I do in the medical surgical one. There are many different types of units, though. Mine is a locked voluntary unit, although the voluntary part can be overridden if the patient is conserved. We have mostly psychotic patients who've been sent from various places for increased agitation or aggression. I've been hit once in psych and once in med surg over the past eight years (not counting confused, demented, elderly people). The med surg patient was a lot scarier than the psych one.
  4. by   RNdh
    I work in a locked unit at a hospital and I feel safe. Therapeutic communication is a good de-escalating tactic. That being said, I have been scratched, punched, and chased down the hall by an 80-year-old woman, but all 3 of those incidents occurred at different hospital.
  5. by   Heylove
    I feel safer in my facility than I feel in public.
  6. by   GeminiNurse29
    I worked a forensic psych hospital, so the patients were mainly guys who'd committed crimes ranging from theft to straight up murder and rape/child abuse. Not pretty.

    That said, it was the geriatric psych unit where people were more likely to be hit and hurt. And I often felt safer on the maximum security units than I did on the minimum units.
  7. by   Fiddleback
    I'm going to change the tone a little bit here. I work in a forensic intake unit - all male. We are chronically short staffed. In the past eight years I have seen one RN and a Tech attacked and injured badly enough that they are no longer working and are living on disability. Another Tech was literally picked up and pile driven into the floor. He's still working but has no memory of the incident. Concussions and stitches are not rare among both patients and staff. I've been attacked three times in those eight years.
    Currently I'm on medical leave for a non-work related issue but I'm giving serious thought to taking retirement and finding somplace a little more sedate to finish out my last few years of working or maybe even starting a small business which is really what I'd like to be doing anyway.
    To the OP, psych nursing can be a rewarding line of work. Seeing an individual who was literally foaming at the mouth on admission walk out a few weeks or months later perfectly rational is really a morale booster. At the same time psych nursing can chew you up and spit you out. YOU have to decide if you are suited to it. My advice would be to choose where you work and what type patient you want to deal with after very careful consideration.
  8. by   verene
    I work 3 locked psychiatric facilities (float pool). I generally feel pretty safe at work as we have a good staffing ratio and are very proactive on deescalation and preventing problems before they blow up (e.g. between the 3 facilities we go hands on 1-2x/year). I was to float to a 4th facility but stopped after training because I felt physically unsafe at that facility AND unsupported by other staff - fortunately my manager backed me up.

    I've been in health care for almost 5 years (majority in mental health) and have only felt seriously threatened on two occasions - one occurred at the facility above and involved a patient having trouble differentiating me from a person they've wanted to murder for years (I apparently look like their target), the other involved an elderly man on hospice care with end-stage dementia who was convinced I was attempting to rob his home.
  9. by   s1716698
    I work in an Acute Psych ward in Australia

    There's always the risk of asault

    I use a conversational style with consumers tha
    Builds rapore and trust

    I love it best job in the world

    All the best for the future
  10. by   joe007
    We had three assaults in one day recently on our unit. It is always a reminder that you need to be alert and aware at all times on the unit.
  11. by   CharlieFoxtrot
    To bastardize Forrest Gump: "Psych is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."

    That being said, while working in outpatient psych services (not as a nurse) at a CMHC that had a 12-bed inpatient unit, our outpatient unit had the occasional moment of excitement, usually from someone who missed their depot Halperidol. Even when I was working as a liaison between outpatient and inpatient, whenever I was on "on the unit" in inpatient, I never felt concerned about my safety. Even among the clients that were cranky, coming down/off of something, or had anger issues, most were decent people just having a crap go of things. Among the involuntary admits there were very, very few cases of clients assaulting staff. We had good staff in place, good training on therapeutic options, and good protocols in place for de-escalation.

    I cannot say the same for when I was working as an aide in LTC with alzheimer's clients right out of high school back in the mid 90's... I would get the crap beat out of me regularly on the night shift by a client who thought I was her teenage daughter sneaking in the house. In comparison with the CHMC, we had less training on how to deal with the psych issues and how to successfully de-escalate clients, and I feel this made for a less safe environment for both clients and staff.

    There's always a risk of being hurt by clients wherever you work - that's life. However, proper training, situational awareness, being able to engage in therapeutic communication, and utilizing de-escalation techniques will serve you well on psych... or in any unit.
  12. by   SheriffLauren
    I've worked locked psych and gero psych (memory care) the dementia patiebts are way more violent due to confusion. Psych units control the weapons and things visitors can bring into med surg units. We have a lot more control over behaviours I think and work more as a team to prevent escalation. I was briefly in med surg and I feel psych is much safer. For your back and from being assaulted.
  13. by   Fiddleback
    Psych units control what visitors bring in? Most of the contraband we see is brought in by visitors. And since Texas now has a license to carry law visitors who are licensed can openly carry their handguns when they are visiting at a state owned facility and the staff can't do a thing about it. How would you like to be supervising a family visit where a couple of family members have Glocks strapped to their hips?
    For that matter, employees with an LTC can bring their guns to work but at least we have to leave them locked in our vehicles.
  14. by   RNdh
    Even police officers are not allowed to carry guns on our unit. But this is Florida, not Texas.