May 2019 President's Message

APNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice  |  May 2019 Members' Corner Edition

Gail SternCelebrating Human Connections
Gail Stern, RN, MSN, PMHCNS-BC

As psychiatric-mental health nurses, May is our month. Between Mental Health Month and Nurses Week, is there any population better suited than us to May's festivities? Our practice incorporates the crucial mental health care that so many individuals need while also providing the unique perspective of nurses, the nation's most trusted profession.

This month, I found myself reflecting on connections: the connections between mental health and nursing, and the connections we make with those who come to us for care. The pearl of wisdom I offer to anyone joining our field is this: Cherish the time you take to connect with someone, whether it is to listen, laugh, or offer hope. These connections are how we foster health and healing for those suffering.

Many years ago, I was called to talk to a new mother. Cocaine had been found in her newborn’s system, so children and youth services were taking her baby into custody. As I broke this news to her, she ran. I could run faster back then and caught up with her in the chapel. We sat side by side in a pew and talked about the choices she would have to make to be reunited with her baby. It was a sad day for her and a sad day for me too. Years later, I was in an elevator in our outpatient building and someone called out behind me, “You! You took my baby!” As we stepped out of the elevator, I feared I was going to be faced with a confrontation. Instead, I saw a woman smiling at me as she said, “Thank you! That day we talked in the chapel changed my life. I am sober, and I have my baby now. It was connecting with the choices I had that day that helped me make a life for myself and my baby.”

The value of connecting with patients is my pearl of wisdom. What is yours? I encourage you to share your tips with APNA for an upcoming booklet for PMHNs. Going forward, this resource will help us pass our collective wisdom to the next generation of psych nurses.

Thank you, and happy Mental Health Month!

Gail Stern signature

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