Title: Mental health and nursing: Assessment and identification of behavioral abnormality within patient populations
Krista L. Nelson, PhD, LPC
Southern Arkansas University, USA
Introduction: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the integration of mental health assessment and treatment into primary health care for patients. Unfortunately, not all nurses have the expertise or training to assess for and identify mental health disorders in patient populations. WHO recommends education and instruction for nurses in order to further enhance the identification of mental illness when seeing patients in health care settings. By having training and understanding basic parameters of mental illness, nurses can be better suited to make referrals to mental health specialists for patients in need of mental health services.
This presentation will focus on the basic tenets that assist in determining abnormality in a patient’s emotional or behavioral displays. Psychopathology is typically influenced by cultural expectations; however, there are considerations to utilize in determining if a behavior is to be labeled as abnormal. Specifically, this presentation will discuss the 4 D’s in defining abnormality: deviance, dysfunctionality, distress, and danger.
Deviant behaviors are those behaviors that typically fall outside the normal standard of the dominant society or culture. Deviant behaviors are not typically going to conform to societal ideals. Dysfunctional behaviors are those that cause hindrance in daily functioning. This dysfunction is often distracting, upsetting, or confusing to the patient or their loved ones. When assessing a patient to identify if they are displaying abnormal behavior, the component of distress must also be considered. The unusual or atypical behaviors must be creating distress for the patient or their significant others and/or family members. Finally, assessing for danger is the most significant consideration for determining abnormality. Specifically, the patient must be assessed to determine if they are a danger to themselves or any another person.
Additionally in this presentation, common mental health disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and addiction issues, will be addressed. Criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition) will be explained and examined as well. Finally, information about suicidality will be discussed to assist nurses in assessing suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviors.
Audience Take Away: The audience will gain understanding about the need for mental health assessment during primary health care checks.
- The basic 4 D’s used for determining normal versus abnormal behaviors will be identified.
- Audience members will learn basic techniques on how to assess for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
- Basic criteria for commonly seen mental health disorders will be examined.
- The need for psychiatric referrals to trained mental health professionals will be discussed.
Dr. Krista L. Nelson began working at Southern Arkansas University in 2017 as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in Magnolia, Arkansas in the United States. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the State of Arkansas, and has a PhD in Counseling Psychology from Louisiana Tech University.
In 2004, Dr. Nelson was licensed as a LPC in Arkansas. Prior to SAU, she taught psychology courses at Grambling State University and the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Additionally, Dr. Nelson was on staff at the Medical University of the Americas as a Medical Teaching Psychologist located in Nevis, West Indies, in the Caribbean.