Working as a mental health expert with depression patients
Those who have been sent to mental health experts such as support workers, counsellors and therapists have generally now admitted that they are in fact depressed. They need your help and support to either minimize or completely rid themselves of the ailment of their depression and it is your job to help them.
Let us take a look at what each mental health experts job role is when it comes to helping our fellow brothers and sisters with depression. This will give us a better understanding of how to help the person with depression as well as our specific roles as professionals.
Support with independent living – A support workers job is not to wait on the resident hand and foot. Rather it is to help them lead an independent life. This is one of the most effective ways to help a person with depression. If they do things for themselves such as cooking, hygiene, training and anything like that then they can work towards getting better much more quickly. Support workers are to help the person with complex tasks which generally requires two people. Anything that the person can physically do themselves, they should be encouraged to do so.
Keep them from staying in solitude – Don’t take this to mean that the person should never be alone and that you should be knocking on their door every 10 minutes. What it means is that if the person with depression is spending all morning in their rooms, then it is probably because they are thinking negatively about the past rather than how to improve their future lot. This is where you as a professional will need to encourage them and help them to think of more positive things to do with their time which will improve their mood.
Motivate the person to complete agreed tasks – For example, if they have agreed a plan with their counsellor to look for jobs or partake in physical activities then you should be the one to motivate and remind them to do it. This may just be a friendly word or it could be to support them out in the community to do those things with them. There is nothing stopping you as a support worker bringing your gym gear and going with the person you support. If you can make the experience a positive one then they are far more likely to want to go again.
Report and feedback information to supervisor/management – Any incidents which happen such as attempted suicide or self harm will need to be documented and fed back to management. This is essential because they need to know what frame of mind the person is in so that they can help them better. Of course, you should always call for an ambulance if an attempted suicide was to occur.
Complete new risk assessments as information arises – If one of the residents of the house you manage has had a slip then you will need to write out a risk assessment for them if it was avoidable. For example if they had an injury prior to the slip which caused them to fall, then you would look at ways of reducing risk.
Monthly reviews of the resident – This is to manage progress and understand what is working and what is not working in their care plans. If anything requires change then you will have to discuss this with the person under your duty of care. You will then need to change it in their care plan once you have discussed it with the support workers, families of the resident and counsellors.
Supervise the support workers – Ensure that the support workers understand their role and are doing it effectively. Any information they need you should be able to either discuss it with them, or be able to refer where they will get that information. Nobody will expect you to be a walking dictionary but you will need to have a very good idea of healthcare in general.
Coordinate with support workers, counsellors, therapists for better care of resident – You will want to make sure that the lines of communication are open on all side for the good of the resident. Speaking with each health professional to make sure that everyone understands what needs to be done will be your responsibility as the manager.
Mental Health Counsellor
Diagnose the depression – It may seem obvious, but the counsellor will need to be sure that the patient actually does have depression to begin with. Not only that but depression rarely comes on its own. There will probably be another underlying cause of their depression. Depression is usually a symptom rather than a diagnosis.
Monitor Progress – Any progress that the patient is making you will need to be aware of because they will need positive reinforcement. If the patient believes that they are getting better then you will need to make it clear to them the importance of continuing with the lessons so that they do not cut off from their lines of support to early.
Find the reason for depression – You will want to get to the bottom of the depression. Depression is not usually something which comes for no reason and there are many triggers for it appearing. Some might be pretty obvious such as substance misuse, grievance etc. However sometimes depression comes from something much more subtle and you will need to try to figure it out with the patients help.
Let them know that they need to want to be helped – Helping with depression is pointless unless the person suffering from it is willing to work with you. The patient will need to realise that they must take responsibility for their own diagnosis and work hard to overcome it. Without this realisation, treatment will be impossible. A counsellor is there to help them to understand what they need to do, not do it for them.
Refer them to more treatment – There may be other forms of treatment that the patient might find helpful. Physiotherapy can be incredibly useful if the patient is suffering from physical problems. It could in fact be the source of their depression. This is one of the most important ways you can help the patient but you need to be sure.