How to Talk to a Psych Patient, outside of the psychiatrist’s office

So what about other practitioners not in the mental health field?  How do they talk to psych patients?  Do you have any stories of your own that you’ve observed or experienced?

Say the cardiologist?  The nurse checking blood pressure?  The patient on a medical unit for a broken hip?  In these, out of context, contexts, psych patients are still treated differently at times than other “medical” patients.

I’ve heard a ton of stories about the ER (emergency room), when a patient comes in with chest pain, for example…

Tears are flowing down Frank’s stubbled face.  He is shaking, and sweating, and is sure he is going to have a heart attack. Everyone takes Frank seriously, that is until they see Frank’s medication list.  Some not so nice words are exchanged, and so forth after that.

Frank’s story and others like it are all bummer stories. But it hits me hard when later, if one such patient was fortunate enough to press the issue and the work up, and later it is found that they were having symptoms of both anxiety and heart disease, and would have died if that wasn’t discovered. I can’t help imagine and remember real people who were not so “fortunate.”

Or a someone is inpatient on the infectious disease ward for a MRSA+ leg cellulitis.  They are, in the hospital staff’s opinions, a sad patient.

Let’s call her Susie.  Susie’s finger never hits the nurse’s call button. She cries alone and people stay away. Who knows why.  Without asking her about her emotional and behavioral symptoms, they practice as if it was assumed that it is normal for someone in her condition to “get a little depressed.”  Susie recovers from her leg cellulitis and is feeling better.  She is feeling good enough in fact to realize that she doesn’t want to live, and hangs herself by the hospital sheets.

How do we talk to a psych patient?  Please speak out!  Tell your stories.  Tell your thoughts!  Good experiences and bad ones.  Good opinions and lesser.

Keep on!

5 thoughts on “How to Talk to a Psych Patient, outside of the psychiatrist’s office

  1. I have my chance to share my story. Whenever, I am feeling suicidal I go to the emergency room, like you are suppose to so I don’t kill myself. I am no longer going to an emergency room. When you go in you are treated like a criminal. The nurses are not nice to you. You are put in a bare room where there is no tv. A security guard watches your every move. You are in there for hours, depending on if they can find you a psych hospital. Once you are there no medical staff talks to you or asks if you want to eat or drink at a meal time. You are given a flimsy blanket to go over your lightly gowned body and you freeze. Prisons give you better care. I would have to say the nursing care is really bad. They are mean and not caring.

    Not only the ER room hospitals are bad. The psych hospitals are bad too. They strip search you. They don’t let you have your room until you answered all the nurses questions. There is no tv in the rooms. You have to go to all the groups if you want to smoke. (Blackmail). You have to be around many people even if you have social anxiety. My lists go on.

    I do have one question. Why are psych patients treated so badly when their disease is biological just like diabetes? It doesn’t make any sense. I would never advise people to go to hospitals. I would advise them to seek help from their community mental health centers. For me personally, I will never enter a hospital setting for mental health reasons.

    • Being nice, goes a long way, huh Sheila? I’m so grateful for your story and voice! Thank you very much for speaking.
      What are some examples of Community Mental Health Centers that are helpful? and how do they speak to psych patients?

  2. My opinion is the only way a non psychiatric doctor can talk to a psych patient is by having a great sense of humor and if the doctor can communicate happy and joyful responses to a patient then his or her relationship with God must be very close otherwise the doctor will be effected with the sad environment. Besides, not all psychiatrists are able to provide good support for patients if they are not physically and spiritually capable themselves.

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