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We all know that it’s difficult to be totally honest with ourselves and others about our health and wellbeing. It can be even more difficult when we know we need to talk about our mental health.

So, what do you say? What should you share? How can nurses best approach the topic of mental health with their patients and how should the conversation go from there?

The Importance of Discussing Mental Health in Healthcare

Mental health is a hot-button issue that affects everyone, not just those who are diagnosed with a mental illness.

Studies show that approximately one in four adults has experienced some form of mental illness in their lifetime. This number skyrockets for children and adolescents (about half).

Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are among the most prevalent mental health problems affecting people of all ages.

Learning about mental health can help those with mental illness feel more connected to their community, which ultimately leads to a healthier lifestyle for everyone.

Nursing School: Where Mental Health Conversations Start

Before a nurse can start speaking with patients about mental health, they need to understand the types of mental health issues out there.

Given the sheer number of emotional and behavioral disorders, it is important for nurses to be able to recognize the symptoms of each disorder so they can better manage those they treat.

By educating yourself on the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, you will be better equipped to help your patients receive proper treatment and support.

The uta.edu offers BSN courses online, these courses cover sections on mental health and helping patients who may be struggling.

Nurse Mental Health Care

Nurses are in a good position to make an impact in the lives of others by discussing mental health issues. They have direct contact with patients, who they can discuss certain topics without fear of judgment or repercussion.

Nurses are also in a position to provide hope and help people get treatment by offering professional counseling services; people are 14x more likely to be treated for depression when referred by a nurse than by a family physician.

How Nurses Talk to Patients about Mental Health

Nurses should feel empowered to speak with their patients about mental health issues.

In fact, the use of positive language is key to helping patients recognize when their mental health is affecting them.

By using phrases that are encouraging, supportive, and problem-solving, nurses can encourage those who are struggling to open up about their mental health issues.

For example, using “I’m concerned that you’re feeling down lately … ” is a gentle way to start a conversation in which you are trying to diagnose whether someone is going through depression and then help them find a treatment plan that works best for them.

Conclusion: Nurses Can Help Patients Gain Confidence

It is important for nurses to help their patients find the courage to speak about their mental health.

As a nurse, it is crucial to be sure that your patient understands that you are concerned about them and willing to assist them in finding the resources or treatment they need to get better.

By taking a supportive approach, patients feel more comfortable opening up, which ultimately helps them get healthier faster.