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Understand Psychiatric Patient Care: Training for Effective Caregiving 

Are you a healthcare professional wanting to enter the psychiatric patient care field? 

Do you have an immense passion for helping people with mental disorders get better and manage their illnesses? 

MANCOSA offers a short Psychiatric Patient Care course that’ll teach you the fundamentals of helping patients develop new meaning and purpose in their lives beyond the effects of mental illness.

But what exactly is mental illness? And what does psychiatric care involve? 

In this article, we’ll look at what mental illness is and the care that needs to be provided to these patients, including therapy. We’ll also discuss the differences between psychiatric nursing and psychiatric caregiving so you can get a clear picture of these two fields. 

What is a mental illness or disorder?

Mental illness, also called mental disorders, is a variety of mental health conditions that affect a person’s thinking, mood, and behaviour. Some common mental disorders include: 

  • Depression and bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • And more

While many people have mental health concerns from time to time and may experience mood swings, these mental health concerns become disorders when the symptoms become very frequent and cause immense amounts of stress. 

Mental health has become a massive concern in South Africa. In fact, according to responses from over 223 000 people in 34 countries across the globe, SA ranks as one of the worst countries regarding mental health. 

Mental illnesses can make people miserable and cause multiple problems in their lives, jobs, and relationships. Untreated, it can lead to severe physical, behavioural, and emotional issues — resulting in a decreased enjoyment of life. 

In severe cases, these disorders can even result in suicidal thoughts and tendencies. 

This makes it all the more important for people with mental illness to find proper help from healthcare professionals. They need these professionals to provide the necessary emotional support and prescribed medications.  

Specialised psychiatric patient care

Psychiatric patients require specialised care to help them get better and deal with their mental health problems in the best way possible. This is because of the following reasons. 

1. Psychiatric patients have specific needs

Mental health is complex and includes various conditions that must be treated individually. Patients have different levels of mental illness, including mild, moderate, severe, and profound. 

Some may also have thoughts of self-harm. Thus, every patient is different, having their own unique needs. 

While many mental conditions result from genetics, meaning they can’t be fully “cured”, they can be managed. 

It’s the job of psychiatrists and healthcare professionals specialising in mental health conditions to help these patients manage their conditions better. 

2. The patients are a risk to themselves and others

These patients may also sometimes be a danger to themselves and others. This is where psychiatric hospitals and facilities come into play. 

Many of these patients need long-term care in these facilities, ranging from weeks to years. The duration of hospital care will depend on the person and the severity of their condition. 

Only the most experienced professionals can work with them and help them improve their mental state with time. 

3. They need different types of therapy

The exact treatment of the disorders will be determined based on several factors, including, but not limited to, the nature of the disorder, the individual’s mental and physical state, and much more. 

The patients may also undergo several types of treatments, including: 

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): This form of psychiatric treatment helps patients identify and recognise thought patterns that hurt their behaviour and thinking. It mainly treats depression, eating disorders, and severe anxiety. 
  • Medication: Many psychiatric patients require medication to help them manage their disorders. For example, patients with bipolar disorder often require mood stabilisers such as lithium, divalproex sodium, and others. 
  • Support groups: In some instances, patients must attend group sessions to discuss their feelings, frustrations, and stories with other patients. 

Differences between psychiatric nursing & psychiatric care

While there are similarities between psychiatric nursing and psychiatric care, they’re not the same. 

Psychiatric nursing is a specialised field of nursing that focuses on physically caring for individuals with mental health disorders to help them recover. 

Some of the primary duties of a psychiatric nurse include: 

  • Monitor patients’ psychiatric states.
  • Diagnose and administer medication.
  • Remove triggering or potentially harmful objects.
  • Asses patient functions.

On the other hand, psychiatric care focuses on treating psychiatric patients’ minds, behaviours, and mental states so they can get better and return to regular life activities. These professionals take the patient on a “healing” journey. 

Some of the primary duties of a psychiatric caregiver include: 

  • Develop treatment plans. 
  • Keep accurate records of the patient’s mental and physical health.
  • Provide day-to-day care to these patients.
  • Provide patients with different types of therapy based on their individual needs.

You can choose to build your psychiatric care skills online — even while having a full-time job. 

Learn why online learning is such an effective way to study.

Register for psychiatric training with MANCOSA

Now that you know what psychiatric care involves, does this sound like a good option for your career? If so, you can learn the fundamentals of psychiatric care with our Psychiatric Patient Care short course. 

This three-day psychiatric training course is self-paced and is 100% online — meaning you can finish it whenever you’d like. It includes multiple modules to give you a good overview of psychiatric disorders, patient care and journeys, and more.

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