May is Canadian Mental Health Week (May 6-12) and American Mental Health Awareness Month! It’s a time to raise awareness of mental health within our communities.

Here are 4 ways you can improve mental health care for patients under your care:

1.Get current mental health training for all staff: Anyone who deals with patients at your facility should participate in regular mental health training so they are better able to spot mental health issues before they harm the patient or others. Proper recognition of physiological conditions could provide better diagnosis and prevent people from being admitted to mental health wards unless they are actually necessary.

2. Actively listen to your patients: We know being a patient is a stressful time for everyone, but you can help calm the nerves, and increase patient satisfaction if you really listen to patients needs. Be an active listener when they share their medical history with you, and even when they tell you about their grandchildren, or a recent marathon they ran!

3. Use technology when in-person visits are not possible: Staying connected to patients who have been diagnosed with mental health conditions, or those who you suspect may develop one after discharge, is crucial. Use video conferencing tools to book check-up appointments with patients who can’t easily get back to your facility, or those who don’t necessarily need a live, in-person consultation.

4. Collaborate with different departments: Collaborative care is crucial to proper diagnoses and faster recovery. Keep clear lines of communication open between doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and any other front-line workers. If you work with paramedics or emergency health professionals, make sure you get a full incident report so you can look for potential mental health instability from other perspectives.

This week use the hashtag #GetLoud on social media in Canada and #4Mind4Body in the US to spread the word and awareness of mental health issues.

Learn more about mental health week and month at https://mentalhealthweek.ca/ and http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may

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