db responses family care of a mental health patient

1. Karen Dearing

Mental health and Family

In this post I will discuss the pros and cons of involving the family of a patient newly diagnosed with a mental health issue.

Mental health is still a taboo subject for many communities today. Depending on what culture you grew up in, could determine your views regarding the subject. It takes a level of self-awareness and honesty to admit and accept that one has a mental health issue. This can be a difficult task for any age. Involving the family of the patient regarding mental health can sometimes be beneficial and sometimes be a stressor for the patient. This is determined by the strength of the family relationships and their bonds as well as their views regarding the patient and mental health in general (Collins & Saxena, 2016).

I have witnessed a 12 year old male patient that was brought into the emergency room because we was cutting himself and had texted his friend saying he wanted to kill himself. Upon arrival to the emergency room the father of the patient was very vocal and authoritative towards staff and the son. The father was upset his son was put on a 5150 and was saying things like “I want to take him home and make a man out of him”, alluding to possibly physically disciplining him. You can not punish mental health. This young boy was clearly scared of his dad and perhaps was afraid to speak to him about anything let alone his emotional state. This instance, involving the family was not a positive influence on the patient but was inevitable because the patient was a minor. Not having a good support system can exacerbate mental health issues and sometimes cause further decline in the patient. It’s our job to advocate for the patient and offer help, support and advice to the family and patient on the best ways to support them (Harandi, Taghinasab & Nayeri, 2017).

I have also witnessed times when involving the patient’s family was beneficial. One patient that I recall was brought into the ED because she attempted suicide by swallowing a bunch of pills. The mother and sister were present in her room but had mentioned that this wasn’t the first time that this had happened. They were firm and gentle when dealing with their loved one. They never judged her but instead were loving and firm in their support of her getting help with her depression and suicidal ideations.

Collins, P. Y., & Saxena, S. (2016). Action on mental health needs global cooperation. Nature, 532(7597), 25-27.

Harandi, T. F., Taghinasab, M. M., & Nayeri, T. D. (2017). The correlation of social support with mental health: A meta-analysis. Electronic physician, 9(9), 5212.

2. Olivia Divecchio

Family Care of the Mental Health Patient

Families and their normal routines can be easily disrupted when someone is diagnosed with a mental health condition. Nurses are responsible for helping the family cope with the diagnosis and providing them with ways to ease the burden and adjust to the family role changes. The purpose of this discussion board is to discuss the benefits and barriers to incorporating the family into the care of the mental health patient.

According to Kaakinen, Coehlo, Steele, and Robinson (2018), the family dynamics change depending on the family member with the mental health condition and the change that the caretaker must make. For instance, if the person with the mental health condition is a child, the parents more often than not already take care of their children and may only have to make a few modifications to get by. If the person with the mental health condition is a parent, the child might have to change their lifestyle and take on certain parenting roles, such as caring for siblings, giving medications to their parents, and responding to crises. Some benefits of incorporating family into care include emotional support, encouragement and compliance to a medication regimen, relapse prevention, and reduced hospital stays (Dirik et al., 2017). Barriers to involving the family include possible lack of understanding of the diagnosis, denial of the diagnosis, and inability to cater to the patient’s needs. The family health nurse can help with family involvement by accepting the family member’s attitudes towards the diagnosis and helping them cope with it. The family health nurse can also assist with ethical dilemmas that may be involved with freedom and autonomy of the person with the mental health condition in terms of medications, hospitalizations, and crisis planning.

A personal experience that I can relate this to is my diagnosis with Bipolar disorder when I was a teenager. My family had to make a lot of modifications to their lifestyle in order to accommodate my mental health condition. Fortunately, my parents were very supportive and understanding of my up and down episodes, and encouraged me to seek help and try different medications. However, I remember feeling so different than everyone my age, and it was a frustrating time for me. My siblings resented me for the extra attention I was given at that time in my life, and it created a lot of family tension. Some barriers that we faced as a family were overall communication issues and difficulty with family bonding. I felt that my sisters had difficulty understanding what I was going through and we had trouble with our relationship at that time.

In conclusion, no matter the health issue at hand, there are always going to be barriers. It is the nurse’s responsibility to assess those barriers and assist the family in coping with whatever stressors may be caused by the diagnosis.


Dirik, A., Sandhu, S., Giacco, D., Barrett, K., Bennison, G., Collinson, S., & Priebe, S. (2017). Why

involve families in acute mental healthcare? A collaborative conceptual review. BMJ Open, 7(9), e017680. https://doi-org.proxy.library.ohio.edu/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017680

Kaakinen, J. R., Coehlo, D. P., Steele, R., & Robinson, M. (2018). Family health care nursing

theory, practice, and research. 6th edition. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.

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