Assessment and care planning in mental health nursing by Nick Wrycraft

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By Nick Wrycraft

This publication is a pragmatic and updated textual content on overview, a basic ability for psychological healthiness nurses.

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Next we will build on this understanding and consider the crucial role that is performed by empathy. The role of empathy A central quality that mental health nurses require to be able to engage with people is empathy. Empathy means putting ourselves ‘in the other person’s shoes’ and trying to understand how that person might feel. Yet as we are not actually in their situation, while we might try to understand, we can never totally appreciate their perspective. The best we can ever achieve is to approximate what it might be like.

A: We could ask ourselves, how does the person perceive their current circumstances and immediate situation? We might not have made the same choices, or acted in the same way, but this will help us understand the person and form a better rapport with them if we can appreciate their reasoning. It is important to look at the major challenges that have occurred in the person’s life, both in the recent and more distant past and to understand how they responded. They may have coped very well over a prolonged period of time under extreme difficulties, and only recently experienced problems due to the challenges finally exceeding their coping mechanisms.

When working with people with mental health issues, how we use our interpersonal skills will determine whether the person feels comfortable and able to engage with us and whether we are worthy of their trust. A prerequisite of being trustworthy is genuineness and authenticity, and this relates to more than the words that we use in conversation but also to how we act and what we do, and what we believe and the principles and values we hold. The more our personal and professional values overlap the more authentic we will appear to the person with whom we are seeking to engage (see partnership working, Chapter 6).

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