Mental Health Month

October is Mental Health Month in Australia and October 10th is International Mental Health Day, so I have discovered.  There have already been programs on television alerting viewers to a range of mental health problems, some interesting interviews with psychiatrists and much information on the support available for people with mental problems and their families.

We are a far cry from the old days of huge mental asylums where people with mental health problems were locked away in rather distressing conditions for very long periods.  Of course we still have hospitals that cater for the mentally ill, and most are far better than days of old.

As a former registered nurse, I did work in a couple of places that focused on mental health.  One was in the 1980's when I was a full time night duty R/N in a large unit attached to a major hospital.  I like night duty as I used to laugh and say, that most nights the patients would sleep, though there were always nights when we were frantically busy with one or more patients having trouble.

For the most part it was a serious place, though it was hard not to laugh with some of the events that took place.  Humour was one way we coped with the various awful situations many of our patients found themselves in.  We had several rooms of young girls who were anorexic and dieting their way to certain tragedy. There were  difficult to manage as a group, but luckily most slept all night and we had little to do with them other than some early morning activities like making sure they were awake and washed their faces and hands.

The humour came often after the drama had passed, like the night one of the elderly patients appeared at the 'sisters station' asking for a match to light his cigarette.  Of course he was not allowed to smoke in the ward, but he would return to his room, put another cigarette in his mouth and return begging for a match or a light.  I think , and were about six hanging out of his mouth and he got angry and tried to assault me.  I was on the phone calling for help as he was hitting me, and pulling at my clothes, and I got the giggles, so the folk that I called to help me thought I was joking, but luckily they came to my aid.  Being groped bya 70 plus year old with six fags in his mouth was certainly funny.  We did settle him back to bed, and no, he didn't get a light.

Treatment of mental health has certainly improved over the years, though there is still much to do.

Hopefully further research will go a long way to helping those people who have a problem, and it would be great to see the incidence of mental health decreasing in time.

For more information about Mental Health - for Australians they will find information here.

If you know of someone with a mental health issue, think of them at this time, and see if there is something you can do for them, especially this month.


Lana said…
I think every family is touched by this in some way, if not a member of the family, then extended family or friends.I wonder how much mental illness these days is caused by drugs? Many of the causes seem to have changed in the last 30 or 40 years? But it does seem to me that much of societies ills are a direct or indirect result of drug taking. Here I am talking about what are called recreation drugs, a misnomer I suppose.

I must say though that I have tremendous admiration for those who work in the mental health field. I think they have to be very special people. I don't think I could do it.
Di Hill said…
Yes, Lana, I too have admiration for those who work in this field. It is a weird world and I found that many who work here can also get disturbed as a result of the strange world of many psychiatric patients. It can be hard to cope with...

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