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'I don't know how to deal with aggression'

  • 1 Comment

Can you advise this student nurse?


“I’m a first-year mental health branch student nurse and I’m on my first acute inpatient placement.

“Having experienced dealing with mental health problems within my own family I felt fairly prepared to start the course; but this placement has really scared me.

“On my first day I witnessed a patient being restrained after refusing medication a number of times. It was horrible to watch. He was really fighting against the nurses and nursing assistants who were doing the restraint and even though I do understand that he was very unwell, I find it so hard to believe that this was the only way to get him the help he needs.

“There’s been a few instances since this which have made me really anxious, such as patients being really verbally aggressive and someone throwing a yoghurt in the dayroom (sounds ridiculous now but it was the anger behind it that scared me).

“My mentor says that the ward is “really acute” at the moment but even so, is this my future career?”

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  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • there are more options for a mental health nurse than just acute. acute was my first every placement and it really opened my eyes. Unfortunately the people on acute wards are really at their poorliest, which is why they are there. it is very hard to see patients restrained but try and remember it's only ever used as a last resort. poorly patients on acute wards very rarely want to comply with medication but they really do need it. at the end of the day, like i said, the people on acute wards are there because they are a risk to themselves or others and can't be looked after in the community. just try to work with it. it will get easier and it's an important step for you because to work in any area of mental health you need to see the patients at their worst before they can get better, and you need to know how to deal with patients when they are like this. try not to worry. these patients can and do get better and it is an amazing feeling to see them recovering and continuing on with their lives. sadly, violence and aggression can be commonplace for people with mental health issues especially when cramped on to a busy, acute and hostile ward. it's just a part of becoming a mental health nurse you need to deal with. if you work with it, observe how staff deal with violence and aggression, it will come to you. i now work as a hca alongside my training and i do a lot of work on acute wards and it has really strengthened my skills, as well as strengthening bonds with the patients that are there. like i said, it is important to see people at their poorliest states because the difference when they are well is immense, an amazing feeling. you will have patients you will never forget. try to go with an open mind and remember that acute wards are just a drop in the ocean, however as a newly qualified it is likely you will be working on an acute ward IF you get a job working with adults, you will need experience on these kind of wards before you can get anything like community work. however mental health isn't just acute adult wards, there is elderly you can work with, for example dementia, or adolescents with mental health illnesses or eating disorders.

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