Caring for People with Mental Health Problems Who Present at the Emergency Department: a Nurse Educator's Journey
The New Zealand Emergency Department (ED) nurse is faced daily with the challenge of caring for patients of all ages with a wide variety of presenting complaints. Courses are available for ED specialty work such as trauma and paediatric assessment. However, as this thesis argues, it is difficult to access updated and ongoing education in relation to caring for people with mental health problems who present to the Emergency Department. In addition to this education deficit are the challenges of providing care in an overcrowded ED environment. Such factors contribute to a perceived lack of confidence and sometimes ambivalence or frustration on the part of nursing staff in caring for this group. This may result in an inconsistent standard of care for the the person with a mental health problem unless such issues are addressed.
The aim of this research paper was to explore the education needs of ED nurses when caring for people with mental health problems. A literature review was undertaken to investigate the broad education strategies available to overcome these challenges. Diverse approaches were identified such as workshops, clinical guidelines, and mental health consultation-liaison roles. Research was also identified that examined ED nursing attitudes and their learning needs in relation to mental health.
This paper concludes with a discussion of recommendations for the New Zealand setting with the intention of developing a more confident and competent nursing workforce, who are better prepared to care for the person with a mental health problem.