Tag Archives: emotional intelligence

Thanks

This three-part blog post is in praise of Australian football and saying thanks.

AFLW Grand Final, Adelaide Oval, 31/03/2019. Photo by Bernie McNamara.

1. Responding to Compliments with Thanks.

Once upon a time I played a good game of footy. I was playing for my employer at the time, Dairy Vale, in a social match against dairy industry rival Golden North in Clare. My workmate and old school friend John Nolan was our ruckman – he was great at it. John spent all day tapping the ball down to the spot that I was running into. Consequently, I had the ball on the run a lot, which allowed me the time and space to amass a heap of kicks. I even kicked a goal on the run from a centre clearance. It’s the best game of footy I’ve ever played.

The game ended. Dairy Vale had won. The teams were walking off the ground. A friend (Michael Forde) approached and said something like, “Good game Mac. B.O.G.” I brushed the comment off. Nobody likes a bragger. Unexpectedly, Michael responded with a bit of irritation in his voice, saying something like, “When somebody gives you a compliment it’s good manners to say ‘thank you’.” I was a bit taken aback, and responded eloquently, “Umm. Yeah. Umm. Right. Sorry. Umm. Thanks.”

Anyway, Michael was right of course. To him it might have been a throw-away comment on a footy oval. To me it was a valuable life lesson. We were both about 20 years old at the time. I don’t know how Michael was so wise at that age, but it was something I remembered and practiced. Saying, ‘thank you’ to compliments, that is.

2. Self Esteem

Fast-forward 10+ years after playing that game of footy, and I have started work as a mental health nurse. At Glenside Hospital senior nursing staff encouraged junior nursing staff (as I was at the time) to facilitate group discussions and activities. I was asked to facilitate a group about self esteem. It went really well.

I told the John Nolan/Michael Forde story. Then we practiced giving and accepting compliments. Of course, saying ‘thank you’ is just the start; especially if you actually feel really shitty about yourself. So we started slow with shallow superficial stuff (haircuts, tans, shirts etc). That served as a practice run for more meaningful compliments. We took turns saying, “One of the things I really like/admire about you is…”, with the person receiving the compliment practicing saying ‘thank you’ without adding a disclaimer or self-depreciating comment. That can be really hard for some of us. Not everyone has accumulated the habit of saying ‘thanks’ as a way to acknowledge and accept a compliment.

We finished the session with our group of 2 mental health nurses and about 10 inpatient mental health consumers going out to the Glenside Hospital football oval (it used to be about here, I think). While there we learned and practiced a skill that none of us felt at all confident in: kicking a checkside goal. It took us all quite a few goes to get it right, but all of us in the group eventually kicked three checkside goals (three to prove that the first one wasn’t a fluke). We left the oval as happy, chatty, cohesive and confident as any winning sport team. It was a great session.

3. Giving Thanks.

In my current role I don’t do group work, but I still speak to people about their self-esteem, and occasionally find myself trotting-out the John Nolan/Michael Forde story. In mental health nurse parlance sharing life experience/stories like this is called ‘therapeutic use of self’. Even though I haven’t seen Michael or John for over 20 years, they’re part of my story, part of my self. I’m very grateful for my family and friends, past and present.

The other thing is the Adelaide Crows won the AFLW Grand Final today! They played a fantastic brand of team football in front of 53,034 people. It was a terrific, well-deserved win. Back in 2012 when the meta4RN blog started, in the About section I claimed that the blog would comment on how watching Adelaide play in the AFL can inform nursing clinical practice. The Adelaide Crow’s Grand Final winning Registered Nurse Deni Varnhagen has done a better job of telling that story than me:
 

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Sincere congratulations to Deni and all the other Adelaide AFLW players. You’re a terrific team to watch, and have bought many people a lot of joy in the 2019 AFLW season. Thanks!

End

That’s it. As always please feel free to use the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 31 March 2019

Short URL meta4RN.com/thanks

Self Care: Surviving emotionally taxing work environments

The nature of nursing will mean that we are likely to be are exposed to a range of challenges. It’s not unusual for nurses to witness aggression, feel unsafe, have first-hand exposure to other people’s tragedies, and to deal with the physical and emotional outcomes of trauma. This emotionally taxing environment can be pretty stressful. It’s something we should talk about.

I’m often asked to talk about this sort of stuff at inservice education sessions. This page is a 2019 update to support those sessions.

Printed handouts are so last century.

“Self care: Surviving emotionally taxing work environments” is planned as an interactive session accompanied by visual cues to give the discussion a bit of structure. Consequently, the transcript/dialogue of the presentation can not be included here.  The visual presentation itself doesn’t use powerpoint slides. It uses the prettier (and free!) platform Prezi instead: prezi.com/skmu0lbnmkm5/first-thyself/#

I’m recycling and combining a lot of old ideas for the 2019 sessions. Self-plagiarism? Nah – it’s a groovy remix of some favourite old songs. Regular visitors to meta4RN.com may recognise the repetition, and be quite bored with me using the website as a place to store updated versions of old stuff. Sorry about that. I’ll pop-up a new and original post in coming days.

Here is the online presentation: Prezi

Here are the resources and references used in the presentation: (because I’m recycling old ideas this list is ridiculously self-referential).

Australian College of Mental Health Nurses [www.acmhn.org], Australian College of Nursing [www.acn.edu.au], and Australian College of Midwives [www.midwives.org.au] (2019) Joint Position Statement: Clinical Supervision for Nurses + Midwives. Released online April 2019, PDF available via each organisation’s website, and here: ClinicalSupervisionJointPositionStatement

Basic Life Support Procedure
https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0030/607098/pro_basiclifesprt.pdf

Dymphna (re the patron saint of mental health nurses) meta4RN.com/amazing

Eales, Sandra. (2018). A focus on psychological safety helps teams thrive. InScope, No. 08., Summer 2018 edition, published by Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union on 13/12/18, pages 58-59. Eales2018

Emotional Aftershocks (the story of Fire Extinguisher Guy & Nursing Ring Theory) meta4RN.com/aftershocks

Employee Assistance Service (via Queensland Health intranet)
qheps.health.qld.gov.au/hr/staff-health-wellbeing/counselling-support

Football, Nursing and Clinical Supervision (re validating protected time for reflection and skill rehearsal) meta4RN.com/footy

Hand Hygiene and Mindful Moments (re insitu self-care strategies) meta4RN.com/hygiene

Lalochezia (getting sweary doesn’t necessarily mean getting abusive) meta4RN.com/lalochezia

Nurse & Midwife Support nmsupport.org.au  phone 1800 667 877
– we have specifically targeted 24/7 confidential support available

Nurses, Midwives, Medical Practitioners, Suicide and Stigma (re the alarming toll of those who undertake emotional labour) meta4RN.com/stigma

Nurturing the Nurturers (the Pit Head Baths and clinical supervision stories) meta4RN.com/nurturers

Queensland Health. (2009). Clinical Supervision Guidelines for Mental Health Services. PDF

Spector, P., Zhiqing, Z. & Che, X. (2014) Nurse exposure to physical and nonphysical violence, bullying, and sexual harassment: A quantitative review. International Journal of Nursing Studies. Vol 50(1), pp 72-84. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020748913000357

That was bloody stressful! What’s next?
Web: meta4RN.com/bloody
QHEPS: https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0038/555779/That-was-bloody-stressful.pdf

Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance (a reframing of reducing aggression) meta4RN.com/zero

It’s OK if you forget everything about today’s talk, just don’t forget that there is 24 hour support available via 1800 667 877 or https://nmsupport.org.au

End

Please have a play with the pretty Prezi: http://prezi.com/0ysapc6z9aqg

Thanks for visiting. As always your comments are welcome.

Paul McNamara, 22 February 2019

Short URL: meta4RN.com/SelfCare

 

 

Diagnostic Overshadowing

Consultation liaison psychiatry services (CLPS) are, typically, based in a general hospital setting to provide the dual services of mental health clinical assessment/treatment and clinician support/education. The clinical and education roles overlap – a lot.

A significant part of the CLPS job is undiagnosing mental illness. Undiagnosis is often correcting a misdiagnosis, and also serves to validate the emotions and experiences of people (Patfield, 2011; Lakeman & Emeleus, 2014). It is not unusual for CLPS to be asked to see somebody who is emotionally overwhelmed or dysregulated. Sometimes this is in the context of mental health problems often in the context of significant stress. Naturally, we do not want to ‘psychiatricise’ the human condition. Of course, you cry when you are sad, and of course you are anxious when, like Courtney Barnett in ‘Avant Gardener’, you are not that good at breathing in. Of course, you’re frustrated when you are in pain or do not understand what’s going on.

Validating understandable and proportionate emotions is important.

It is equally important to make sure that somebody who has experienced mental illness previously does not have every presentation to the hospital/outpatient clinic seen through that lens. That is called “diagnostic overshadowing”; which is a significant problem.
Diagnostic overshadowing is where physical symptoms are overlooked, dismissed or downplayed as a psychiatric/ psychosomatic symptom. It must be one of the most dangerous things that happen in hospitals.

The President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Professor Malcolm Hopwood, said in May 2016, “I sometimes think that the worse thing a person can do for their physical health is to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.” Prof Hopwood cited stigma and discrimination in the health sector as contributing problems to early mortality amongst people with mental health problems.

People, hospital clinical staff included, are often shocked when they find out that people diagnosed with mental illness die between 10 and 25 years younger than the general public. Although suicide is a contributing factor to high mortality rates amongst this part of the community, it is alarming to note that the overwhelming majority – 86% – of people with mental health problems who had a premature death did not die from suicide (Happell & Ewart, 2016).

About 60% of people who experience mental health problems experience chronic physical health problems too. Poor mental health is a major risk factor for poor physical health, and vice versa (Harris et al, 2018).

The lived experience

Diagnostic overshadowing happens outside of hospitals too. In the example below, understandable and proportionate human emotions were misinterpreted as psychopathology. The cascade of events that followed makes for a sobering read:

Eight years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder (BPAD) and recovered enough to commence a PhD. Unable to obtain travel insurance for a conference due to my diagnosis, I disclosed the reason to my supervisor. Unfortunately, he began to see all stress (normal to a PhD student) as BPAD symptoms and decided I was incapable of completing the PhD and progressively began to discriminate against me. My mental health started to decline. I imagine this must have validated his belief that I was an unsuitable student.

I received some help from the university, with an advisor indicating that my supervisor was undermining my work. The advisor was promoted. Despite not knowing me, his replacement did not believe my account and disagreed with my psychiatrist’s assessment of my mental state. Other staff and graduate students joined the belief that I could not cope, alienating me from the entire department.

After almost 18 months of fighting, I was once again depressed and felt defeated. I left the degree and lost my scholarship. It was one of the hardest things I have done. After, I was unable to gain employment; overqualified for most positions, lacking experience for the rest, and no references. After five months of constant rejections and lingering grief from losing the PhD, my self-worth and coping ability were so diminished, I made a very serious suicide attempt. I was so distressed that I could not see another solution.

Seven months later and I still have no paid employment. I have been undertaking volunteer work to regain some meaning in my life and have set myself up for the long-term with a new field of study. However, this does not pay the bills, and living like this is taking its toll. Sometimes I do not know where my next meal will come from, I have lost friends because of their attitude towards mental illness, and have withdrawn from health-related activities because of a lack of finances. Most days I cope and can find meaning in what I do, some days are much harder.

Questions for Reflection

Assuming that you – the person reading this – is a health professional, we have some questions we would like you to reflect on.

Have I ever witnessed a person’s mental health history influence how their presenting complaint was investigated or treated?

How does my workplace prevent mental health stigmatising and diagnostic overshadowing?

What can I do to support good holistic patient care without falling into the trap of diagnostic overshadowing?

References

Happell, B. & Ewart, S. (2016). ‘Please believe me, my life depends on it’: Physical health concerns of people diagnosed with mental illness. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal, 23(11), 47.

Harris, B. Duggan, M. Batterham, P. Bartlem, K. Clinton-McHarg, T. Dunbar, J. Fehily, C. Lawrence, D. Morgan, M. Rosenbaum, S. (2018). Australia’s mental health and physical health tracker: Background paper. Australian Health Policy Collaboration issues paper no. 2018-02, Melbourne, AHPC.

Lakeman, R. & Emeleus, M. (2014). Un-diagnosing mental illness in the process of helping. Psychotherapy in Australia, 21(1), 38-45.

Patfield, M. (2011). Undiagnosis: An Important New Role for Psychiatry. Australasian Psychiatry, 19(2), 107–109.

Seriously mentally ill ‘die younger’. (2016, May 10). SBS News. Retrieved from https://www.sbs.com.au/news/seriously-mentally-ill-die-younger

PDF version

A one page PDF version [suitable for printing] is available here: DiagnosticOvershadowing

Citation

McNamara, P. & Callahan, R. (2018). Diagnostic Overshadowing. News, Summer 2018 edition (published December 2018), Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, page 17.

End Notes

The article above is a tidied-up version of a blog post that Bec and I collaborated on in October 2018 (see meta4RN.com/shadoworiginal). This is not called self-plagiarising, it’s more like doing a studio version of a demo tape. 🙂

Many thanks to Sharina Smith for encouraging us to submit the article to ACMHN News.

Paul McNamara, 15 December 2018

Short URL meta4RN.com/shadow

 

 

Snow White, Complex Trauma and Twitter

On Tuesday 4th December 2018 Naomi Halpern’s workshop “Working with Complex Trauma: The Snow White Model” was delivered at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. I was amongst the small group of mental health nurses and social workers who joined the workshop via videoconference from Cairns Hospital. Here are my notes/tweets:

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What’s all this then?

Some people take notes in workshops using ye olde method of pen and paper. I’m not criticising – pen and paper are cute and quaint. But how on earth do they find their notes quickly and easily after the workshop has ended?.

I tweet my notes. They’re quickly and easily retrieved via phone, tablet or computer at anytime. Sometimes, if the presenter is OK with it, I collate workshop/conference tweets and plonk them all on my webpage for even quicker and easier future reference. That’s what this is all about.

Also, sometimes I have trouble explaining to other health professionals why I’m enthusiastic about Twitter for work-related stuff. It’s easier to show examples of how I use it, rather than just chin-wagging and flapping-about like a chook in a cyclone.

End

Sincere thanks to Naomi Halpern (aka @halpernnaomi1) for an engaging, informative workshop. For a single person to hold the attention and interest of those of us who were joining via videoconference for a whole day is very impressive. Also, I’m grateful to Naomi for agreeing to my request to collate these tweets here.

That’s it. As always, your feedback is welcome via the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 8th December 2018

Short URL: meta4RN.com/SnowWhite

Diagnostic Overshadowing [original, now updated]

Source: I had a black dog, his name was depression https://youtu.be/XiCrniLQGYc

I work in a general hospital doing mental health clinical work and education. The two roles overlap. A lot.

A significant part of the job is undiagnosing mental illness. It’s not unusual for us to be asked to see somebody who is emotionally overwhelmed or dysregulated. Sometimes this is in the context of mental health problems, often it’s in the context of significant stress. We don’t want to psychiatricise the human condition. Of course you cry when you’re sad. Of course you’re anxious when, like Courtney Barnett in ‘Avant Gardener‘, you’re not that good at breathing in. Of course you’e frustrated when you’re in pain and/or don’t understand what’s going on.

It’s important to validate understandable and proportionate emotions.

It’s equally important to make sure that somebody who has experienced mental health problems previously doesn’t have every presentation to the hospital/outpatient clinic seen through that lens. That’s called “diagnostic overshadowing”. It’s a real problem.

Diagnostic overshadowing is where physical symptoms are overlooked, dismissed or downplayed as a psychiatric/psychosomatic symptom. It must be one of the most dangerous things that happens in hospitals. The President of the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Professor Malcolm Hopwood, said in May 2016, “I sometimes think that the worse thing a person can do for their physical health is to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.”

It often comes as a shock to people when they find out that those diagnosed with mental illness die between 10 and 25 years younger than the general public. The next shock comes when discovering suicide accounts for only about 14% of premature death. [source: ‘Please believe me, my life depends on it’: Physical health concerns of people diagnosed with mental illness]

It’s a big deal. About 60% of people who experience mental health problems experience chronic physical health problems too. Poor mental health is a major risk factor for poor physical health, and vice versa. [Source: Australia’s mental and physical health tracker 2018]

Diagnostic overshadowing happens outside of hospitals too. In this example, understandable and proportionate human emotions were misinterpreted as psychopathology. The cascade of events that followed makes for a sobering read:

Questions for Reflection

Assuming that you – the person reading this blog post – is a nurse, midwife or other health professional, I have some questions I’d like you to reflect on.

Have I ever witnessed a person’s mental health history influence how their presenting complaint was investigated or treated?

How does my workplace prevent mental health stigmatising and diagnostic overshadowing?

What can I do to support good holistic patient care, without falling into the trap of diagnostic overshadowing?

End

Sincere thanks to Bec (aka @notesforreview on Twitter) for giving permission to share her tweets re mental health stigma and diagnostic overshadowing. Her first-hand account is a powerful cautionary tale.

Paul McNamara, 1st October 2018

Short URL meta4RN.com/shadoworiginal

Update as at 15th December 2018

Bec and I tidied-up this blog post and it’s now been published.

See meta4RN.com/shadow

Clinical Care and Clinical Supervision

On Monday 17th September 2018 I’ll be presenting to the Cairns & Hinterland HHS palliative care team regarding clinical care and clinical supervision. It is planned as an interactive session accompanied by visual cues to give the discussion a bit of structure. Consequently, the transcript/dialogue of the presentation can not be included here.  The visual presentation itself doesn’t use powerpoint slides. It uses the prettier (and free!) platform Prezi instead: http://prezi.com/gtsqjgs9zdby

This page serves as a one-stop directory to the online resources used to support the discussion, and as an easy way for me to find the presentation. 🙂

I’m recycling and combining a lot of old ideas for the session (there’s that self-plagiarist vs groovy remix of favourite old songs thing again), so this list below is ridiculously self-referential:

Care goes in. Crap goes out. Ian Miller @ The Nurse Path, 30 May 2017
thenursepath.blog/care-goes-in-crap-goes-out

Emotional Aftershocks (the story of Fire Extinguisher Guy & Nursing Ring Theory) meta4RN.com/aftershocks

First Thyself (the core source of info for the visual aspects of this presentation) meta4RN.com/thyself

Flowchart courtesy of Dr Alex Psirides (aka  on Twitter), ICU, Wellington, New Zealand, sourced here:

Football, Nursing and Clinical Supervision (re validating protected time for reflection and skill rehearsal) meta4RN.com/footy

Hand Hygiene and Mindful Moments (re insitu self-care strategies) meta4RN.com/hygiene

Joseph Heller quote from Catch-22 (1961):
“People knew a lot more about dying inside the hospital, and made a much neater, more orderly job of it. They couldn’t dominate Death inside the hospital, but they certainly made her behave. They had taught her manners. They couldn’t keep death out, but while she was in she had to act like a lady.”

Living Close to the Water (re #dyingtoknowday and emotional intelligence) meta4RN.com/water 

Nurses, Midwives, Medical Practitioners, Suicide and Stigma (re the alarming toll of those who undertake emotional labour) meta4RN.com/stigma

Nurturing the Nurturers (the Pit Head Baths and clinical supervision stories) meta4RN.com/nurturers

Sample Clinical Supervision Agreement (no need to reinvent the wheel – start with a wheel that works and tailor it to your needs) meta4RN.com/sample

Woody Allen quote from Without Feathers (1975)
“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

End

That’s it. Please feel free to play with the pretty prezi: prezi.com/gtsqjgs9zdby

Also, as always, please feel free to leave comments in the section below.

Thanks for visiting.

Paul McNamara, 2nd September 2018

Short URL: meta4RN.com/care

 

Perinatal Mental Health Workshop Links + Resources 2018

When you’re doing education sessions, it’s handy to have the links/resources in one place. It makes info much easier to share.

This is a quick and dirty updated and cutdown version of a 2014 blog post called Perinatal Mental Health Workshop Links and Resources. Anyway, with no further ado:

Mental Health Care in the Perinatal Period: Australian Clinical Practice Guideline
It handy to know how to find the October 2017 guideline and companion documents
cope.org.au


Using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale

Tips for midwives, child health nurses, Indigenous health workers and other clinicians
meta4RN.com/epd

Perinatal Jargon Busting
If you haven’t already, get your head around the lingo, and maybe become Facebook friends with Perry Natal 🙂
meta4RN.com/jargon

Nurturing the Nurturers
Info about guided reflective practice/clinical supervision as a self-care mechanism for health professionals
meta4RN.com/nurturers

Nurses, Midwives, Medical Practitioners, Suicide and Stigma
This companion piece to “Nurturing the Nurturers” presents alarming data about the high suicide rate amongst nurses and midwives compared to other professions
meta4RN.com/stigma

Still Face Experiment
Edward Tronick’s demonstration of how infants respond to changes in interaction from primary caregivers is often cited in infant mental health education

Here’s Looking at You – Connecting with Bubs Our Way
This is a terrific video to use/share with parents-to-be or new parents.
The only people on screen and doing the talking are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, which makes a welcome change. 🙂

Circle of Security
The current “go to” model of attachment theory and affective neuroscience.
www.circleofsecurityinternational.com

Head to Health
Find the right Australian digital mental health resources for the family you’re working with (includes info sheets, websites, apps + helplines)
headtohealth.gov.au

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End

That’ll do for the quick and dirty 2018 version. You’re welcome to browse the more detailed 2014 version here, but be warned: there’s quite a few dud/dead links there now. 😦

You’re also very welcome to share this page, the resources above and/or leave a comment below.

Thanks for dropping-in.

Paul McNamara, 12 July 2018

Short URL: meta4RN.com/perinatal

Post Script

Whiteboard from the perinatal and infant mental health session with CQU Student Midwives on 13 July 2018