Working in a Psychiatric Facility

There are so many stigmas put on the Mental Health field, which is one reason there is such a need for staffing. If you’ve read my about me page you know that I went to school for my BA in Psychology and my concentration is in Mental Health.

Psychiatry is definitely a field within itself.

Working in a psychiatric facility definitely freaks some people out. I always get asked to tell stories or asked “how do you do deal with it?”. Truth is, it freaks me out sometimes, but it is definitely a field were you have to have a passion to work there.

Mental illness is defined as, “A wide range of mental health conditions – disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors” (Mayo Clinic). Mental illness isn’t easy to deal with. It can be from one not so complicated thing to one extremely complicated thing, or it can be multiple things together! Dealing with mental illness takes patience, understanding and education on the illness.

But enough educational information back to what it’s like to work in a psychiatric facility. I obviously can’t give exact examples because of the I have to protect the confidential information of my patients, but I can give you a generalization. It is unique, ever-changing, tiring, entertaining, fulfilling and totally unpredictable. But these are some of the best things about it, you never get bored because you never know what you are walking into. Sometimes your patients experience hallucinations and unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to help this besides to be supportive in helping them get through their hallucinations knowing they are safe and taken care of. Sometimes you will get patients that have been through some situations that you cannot even begin to fathom and you wonder how you could help them. And sometimes you get patients that come in with a history of sever substance abuse issues and they have pretty much destroyed their brain to the point of no return. It is definitely an emotionally and mentally exhausting job, but at the end of the day it is important to remember some of those patients just need to see that someone cares and that could be the encouragement they need to take steps to getting better.

I am not sure what it is about full moons, but the “myth” that things get crazier on the nights of full moons is 100% true on the psych unit – it is like there is something put in the air that just changes everything. Patients can become violent, agitated, upset and uncontrollable. It is important to handle these things in the calmest way. I have only been working there for 8 months now and I am definitely still learning how to deal with with these types of situations, but luckily I have a friend I work with that has been doing this for 15 years and it is like second nature to her.

I do want to make it known that the stigmas of mental health are very sad and not very accurate. You don’t walk into a room with people locked to chairs with straight jackets on and everyone is not just fidgety and talking to themselves in a nonsense way. More so than not, the people that I work with are regular people that have been through some very hard times in life – they are just on a different level, but you have to treat them like human beings and not “crazy people.”

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