Monday, 6 February 2017

MH Monday: Helping patients with mental health conditions

Whilst on a psychiatric ward the other day, I took a history from a patient with schizophrenia in front of an F1 doctor. Afterwards he asked me whether I wanted to be a psychiatrist. I said that it was a career I was considering, but that I was very interested in GP. He replied with, "You'd make a very good psychiatrist. You have a lovely tone of voice and really listen to the patients - I'm not patient enough for psychiatry".

I took this as a real compliment, and it was so nice to hear that he thought I was good with patients. I really do feel that my own struggles with mental health have helped me to develop a rapport with psychiatric patients, and I never feel uncomfortable around them, even when discussing sensitive issues such as self-harm and suicide. I think that I am easily able to empathise with things that they say, and I understand what I would want a professional to say to me in those circumstances, so I am able to use my own experiences to have a good conversation with them, and maybe even give them some decent advice.

Even when I am not on a psychiatry placement, I still find myself picking up on mental health cues. For example, whilst I was on General Practice, quite a few patients came in complaining about a physical symptom, when in reality they wanted to discuss their mental health but perhaps felt 'silly' coming in about it. I found that I picked up on something subtle in their tone of voice, or their behaviour, that led me to ask them how they were really feeling in themselves. This led to more of a mental health-focused consultation, and a couple of the patients thanked me for sitting and listening to them about how they were feeling. I came away feeling like I had really achieved something - and that I had really helped those patients just by picking up on the cues that they wanted to talk about something other than their physical health.

I genuinely do think that my own experiences with depression will make me a better doctor, especially when it comes to mental health. I also have such an interest in psychiatric conditions that, naturally, I want to discuss it thoroughly with the patient and know all of the ins and outs of their mood and behaviour. I really feel that I thrive during mental health consultations - I am confident in my knowledge of psychiatry, especially depression, and I think that comes across to the patient, as well as my interest in them and my drive to help them as much as possible.

Perhaps psychiatry is the career for me?! Watch this space...
Be strong, but not rude. Be kind, but not weak. Be humble, but not timid. Be proud, but not arrogant.

1 comment:

  1. I find myself very torn between GP and psychiatry, but I think psychiatry is the way forward for me! It must have been lovely to get that feedback - and I can imagine from the things you write about that you are very good with patients. Picking up on cues about mental health is a really useful skill to have whatever specialty you go into. PS - this photo looks so much like my outfit today haha, stripes exactly like that and the same raspberry pink stethoscope! :D
    Jennifer x
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