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Mental Health Series

DEALING WITH GRIEF

The MidweekSun Admin

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Every family at some point in their lives experience death. Reactions to death vary from individual to another with others having overwhelming responses. Grief is a natural expression to the loss of someone. Grief is encompassed by a wide range emotions that are influenced by cultural expectations and norms. As matter of fact, some tribes are expected to highly express themselves to demonstrate loss and not the case with others.

Following the loss, the individual’s first experience is often of denial, disbelief and shock. This can be preceded by sadness, anger, guilt and despair. The ultimate reaction is acceptance of the loss.
Normal grief fades with time, about six months to a year. In some instances, individuals may experience a different form which is termed complicated or pathologic grief. This is characterised by absent grief when individual is not demonstrating loss and delayed grief when symptoms are experienced a long time after the loss. There could also be distortion of normal grief symptoms whereby individual experience suicidal ideations or psychotic symptoms for example seeing images of the deceased in daytime.

Complicated and/or pathological grief is often experienced by individuals whom suffer loss suddenly under horrific circumstances, those dependent upon the deceased and those who believe are responsible for such a loss. It is important to acknowledge that it is not easy to deal with grief but the following can be helpful;

Catharsise feelings and express self Accept

feelings of sadness and the reality of the loss

The need to allow oneself to experience pain of loss

Have adequate sleeping time and plenty of rest

Exercise

Avoid destructive coping strategies like use of alcohol. Often when they clear off the body, feelings of sadness creeps in Grief therapy may be instituted if the normal grief process does not take course. Medication can also be used to treat symptoms and address sleeping problems when grief has taken a pathological form. As summed up by Shakespeare, “everyone can master a grief but he that has it.”

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Mental Health Series

INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY: REFLECTING ON THE MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES OF NURSES

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Today’s reflection will be on the Nurses’’ day that was celebrated worldwide on the 12th of May. The day is celebrated in remembrance of the birth Florence Nightingale who is the pioneer of modern day professional nursing. The theme for this year is “Nurses: A voice to lead-Health for All.”

Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system as in every health care facility they are there to provide care. They are the single largest group of professionals in the clinical field.
The crux of the discussion is that professional nurses experience burnout and workplace stress because of the nature of the demands of the nursing job. These emanate from working long hours, emotional exhaustion from dealing with vulnerable and ailing clientele, experience of traumatic events, fulfilment of high professional and public expectations and low reward outcomes for their efforts.

The nurses’ already volatile ordeal is further compounded by incidences of nurses being assaulted, emotionally abused, physically abused, sexually assaulted and cyber bullied by the same individuals that they seek to render care for.

The above highlighted challenges can be emotionally draining to the nurses and even facilitate development of mental health problems if they are not attended to promptly. This has been affirmed by various studies.

A review paper done by Vasconcelos and others in 2016 highlighted that the risk of exposure to HIV and poor relationships with administrators as other associated factors that facilitated development of mental disorders.

The review found the following as affecting most of our nurses; post-traumatic stress disorder, acute stress reaction, generalised anxiety disorder, depression and over indulgence in substances.
Nursing managers, the patients as well members of the community need to play a pivotal role in ensuring protective factors towards nurses’ mental health are availed.

The good thing is that this can be ensured by helping nurse build resilience, having debriefing sessions for nurses working in trauma care and having measures like retreats to name but a few. Nurses need to be healthy for them to be custodians for “health for all”.

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Mental Health Series

WHAT WE EAT CAN AFFECT OUR MENTAL HEALTH

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I had a chat with friend over the weekend and he felt that dieticians placed at psychiatric hospitals are misplaced. The basis of today discussion will be herein a response to this.

Nutrition does play a critical role in mental health hence the need for dieticians to be involved in this field as it is the case now. As noted by the research team led by Joseph Firth, “nutritional deficiencies resulting from insufficient intake of nutrients critical to human health are a risk factor for psychiatric and mental disorders.”

Our brains needs food for them to function optimally. Concentration, memory, analysing to name but a few can all be attained by a “well fed brain.” If the brain is deprived of nutrients, it can incur oxidative stress which results in brain cell damage. Brain cells are irreplaceable and their damage facilitates the development of some mental disorders Experience of mental health problems may also be associated with poorer diet and physical health.

Poor nutrition has been implicated in the onset of schizophrenia by various research findings. Studies on schizophrenia patients indicated that the nutrients Zinc and Selenium were found to be compromised whilst in others there was insufficient Vitamin D deficiency.

Other research conducted has determined that the following supplements: zinc, magnesium, omega 3, and vitamins B and D3 are essential in elevating people’s mood, relieving anxiety and depression. Insufficient Omega-3 fatty acids has additionally been linked to low mood, poor concentration, cognitive decline and poor comprehension.

It is clear from the discussion that good nutrition is critical for our mental health and that dieticians are relevant in mental health. An affordable balanced diet which contains the essential nutrients is necessary to be taken to ensure that mental health is uplifted. Nutrition alone cannot ensure our mental but it has a significant adjunctive role. As posited by local author Lindo Morolong, “what you feed your body shapes your health.”

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