Tag Archives: mental health

Phatic Chat: embiggening small talk.

Small talk is a big deal.

Small talk is the oil that keeps the machinery of interpersonal relationships running smoothly.

Small talk even has its own name. It’s called “phatic chat”.

Phatic chat has been described as “A type of speech in which ties of union are created by a mere exchange of words”  by Bronislaw Malinowski (no relation to Barry Manilow). This is why I think it’s important that us health professionals be intentional about phatic chat.

Every, “Hello. My name is…” and “How are you today?” serves to create a working relationship between people. Health professionals rely on working, therapeutic relationships.

Academics (god bless their cotton socks) have even gone to the effort of researching and naming 12 functions of phatic communication (source):

(1) breaking the silence
(2) starting a conversation
(3) making small talk
(4) making gossip
(5) keeping talking
(6) expressing solidarity
(7) creating harmony
(8) creating comfort
(9) expressing empathy
(10) expressing friendship
(11) expressing respect
(12) expressing politeness

When we think about phatic chat in the health care setting, it’s not just a social lubricant, we can also see it as a stand-alone form of therapy. Think of phatic chat as the nonspecific factors of psychotherapy

BTW: “nonspecific factors of psychotherapy” an actual thing, let me google that for you: here

Phatic chat/the nonspecific factors of psychotherapy show the person that there is someone who is interested in them and their concerns. It helps people feel understood, accepted and respected. In my current gig – providing mental health support in the general hospital – I often get told by patients how good it is to be nursed by someone who is good at phatic chat.

It’s easy to imagine, isn’t it? Who would you rather attend to your vital signs, IV antbiotics, wound dressings, and pain relief in hospital: a friendly person who chats and listens, or someone unfriendly and officious who just goes about the tasks at hand? There’s more than one way to prime an IV line.

It sounds simple, and (to my ear anyway) pretty patronising. However, it’s clear that many clinicians do not routinely engage in phatic chat.

You may already know the story of Kate Grainger. Briefly, for those who don’t, Kate was a doctor in the UK who tweeted her experience of living with a terminal illness. One of the many observations she made was that it was refreshing, but actually pretty unusual, for hospital staff to introduce themselves by name and role when they came to see you in your hospital bed. That observation lead to this tweet:

That simple idea has been one of Kate’s greatest legacies (she died in 2016).

If you’re not familiar with the #hellomynameis story, I urge you to visit the hellomynameis.org.uk website for more info.

#hellomynameis = a very successful campaign promoting phatic chat in healthcare

I live and work a long way from the UK. Although I don’t wear a #hellomynameis badge, I borrow heavily from the idea that phatic chat is important, and toss-in a few more Aussie-fied ways to go about using it in the hospital setting. As argued above, phatic chat is important for building relationships and can be therapeutic in and of itself. Sometimes to be culturally safe you need to try a little harder to facilitate trust and rapport. With that in mind. here’s 4 ideas that usually (not always) work for me:

One

“Are you Cyril? G’day my name is Paul McNamara, I’m a nurse with the psych team here at the hospital. Is it OK if we sit down and have a bit of yarn?”

Two

Shaking hands is a respectful thing to do. I always offer a handshake when introducing myself to patients (they’re often surprised!).

Don’t worry infection control peeps, I’ve got that covered: meta4RN.com/hygiene

Three (this is my second favourite: I stole it from Professor Ernest Hunter)

Make a cup of tea for the patient. Even if they say “no thanks”, let them know that you’re making one for yourself anyway, so are happy to make them one while you’re at it. Take instructions on how the person likes it . Apologise if you make it too hot/strong/weak or spill it. Sip yours when they’re talking: if for no other reason, it let’s them know you’re not about to interrupt.

This might be the best journal article ever written by a psychiatrist:
Hunter, E (2008) The Aboriginal tea ceremony: its relevance to psychiatric practice. Australasian Psychiatry, 16:2, doi: 10.1080/10398560701616221
Despite the paper’s title, the same demonstrations of humbleness, politeness and respect work for whitefellas too.

Four (this is my favourite: I made this one up myself)

I nearly always use when Google Maps when introducing myself to people who have come to the hospital from out of town. “Oh you’re from Aurukun? I’ve been to Wujal Wujal, Laura and Hope Vale, but I’ve never been there. Do you mind if we use this map on my phone to see where you live?” It’s nearly always a great way to break the ice, especially when meeting with someone from a different culture. It sets the right tone of showing that you’re interested and approachable.

I’m lucky to work in a place where I meet with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people all the time. By getting the Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander person to show me around their community on a map, I’m acknowledging/demonstrating that they know stuff that I don’t know, and I’m prepared to learn from them. Sometimes I’m a bit more skilled at using the Google map app on my phone, so I get to show the person how I can be helpful, in a kind and respectful way. It probably doesn’t hurt that we’re both looking at the map together and working on the same task (it demonstrates that we can work together, and you don’t want to rush into making a heap of eye contact with someone you’ve just met). While we’re using the app to find their house, the local school, favourite fishing or camping spot, and other landmarks we’re getting to know each other a bit. I’m not left in that clumsy position of being accidentally too pushy, too intrusive, too task-orientated.

Spending a few minutes establishing rapport is what phatic chat is all about. The phone/map app is just a prop, but it’s a great prop.

In Closing

That’s it.

A while back I had a gig educating uni students. One of the best tricks-of-the-trade when in a uni lecturer role is to introduce people to words they have not heard before. This makes you look cleverer than you really are, and lends an illusion of credibility.

So, with that in mind, my call-to arms for health professionals is this:

Let’s embiggen phatic chat!
It’s a perfectly cromulent thing to do. 🙂

Acknowledgement

The phrase/notion of “phatic chat” as a defence against the forces that seek to turn nurses into unempathetic box-ticking robots came to my attention via Professor Eimear Muir-Cochrane’s keynote presentation at the ACMHN 39th International Mental Health Nursing Conference, held in Perth, Western Australia, 22nd-24th October 2013.

Storify of the keynote here: storify.com/meta4RN/zero

Follow Professor Eimear Muir-Cochrane on Twitter here: @eimearmuirc

End

As always your thoughts/feedback is welcome in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 12th October 2017

Short URL https://meta4RN.com/phatic

 

 

The Hearing-Voices/Car-Driving Metaphor

A while ago I met a lady who had a fantastic way of describing and understanding her experience of auditory hallucinations/psychosis. It goes a bit like this:

My body’s a car. I’m the driver.

In the back seat are the voices. They’re like naughty kids, always chatting away amongst themselves. Often they’re taunting me. 

Usually I can just ignore them and get on with driving the car.

However, every now and then the voices get real loud.

It’s distracting. Driving becomes difficult and that’s when I’m most likely to drive badly or, if I’m unable to concentrate properly, I could even crash the car. 

It’s pretty scary, but I usually don’t have to come into hospital at that point. I just need more support to get control back, and maybe a change to my medication. 

The worst time for me is when the voices get so distracting that I can’t focus on driving at all. I turn to the voices in the back seat and try to get them to shut up. But they’re like naughty kids yelling and jumping around the car, and I can’t get them to stop. 

I take my seatbelt off and turn to face them, then somehow – I don’t even notice it happening – one of the voices will slip into the driver’s seat and take over control of driving the car.

Thats when it gets REALLY dangerous.

I’m not out of control – it’s worse than that – I have lost control entirely. I haven’t even got my hands on the steering wheel anymore, and I can’t reach the brakes. 

That’s when I need to come into hospital.

At the time I met this lady she was make a tentative recovery from one of these acute episodes of psychosis. On admission she had been experiencing command auditory hallucinations, paranoid delusions, racing thoughts and suicidal ideation.

When we met the intensity of these symptoms was settling. The lady’s articulate insight helped us both communicate effectively when she had a relapse in symptoms. To keep her safe we needed to stop her from leaving the hospital, and provide an increased level of supervision/support. To get a shared understanding of this I was able to return to the lady’s metaphor:

I’m worried that you’re at risk of losing control of the car again. What I’m planning to do is take the keys away for now, and hand them back to you when you’re safe to drive again. 

That’s a good way to think about using the Mental Health Act – it’s a mechanism to decrease risk/stop people from a foreseeable crash if they’ve lost the capacity to drive. 

However, the real story here is about the intelligence, insight and articulate communication of a young woman who experiences symptoms of psychosis.

An impressive person, and a fantastic metaphor. 

Hopefully other people will be able to make use of this lady’s metaphor as a way to understand psychosis/hearing voices. 

car
End

Thanks for visiting. As always your comments/feedback is welcome below.

Paul McNamara, 20th February 2017.

Short URL: https://meta4RN.com/car

Blatant Self-Promotion

Ever written an article about yourself as an act of blatant self promotion?

I have. Here it is:

ijmhn-photo

Paul McNamara, photograph by Vera Fitzgerald

Cairns Nurse on Journal Editorial Board

Cairns CNC Paul McNamara has recently been appointed to the editorial board of the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing (IJMHN). IJMHN is now in its 26th volume, and has built a solid reputation over the last quarter century. The journal’s impact factor of 1.943 is a great achievement.

Paul was specifically invited to join the board to help develop and drive a social media strategy for IJMHN. “I’ve been very active in using social media in a professional sense for the last few years, and have presented at conferences and published about health professionals using social media.”, says Paul. “I guess that’s what caught the attention of the IJMHN Editor in Chief.”

“Twitter is my favourite platform for work-related social media. I think it will be the best fit for IJMHN. Twitter allows information to be shared with the whole world. If it’s good enough for the Pope, the US President and the Australian Prime Minister, maybe it’s good enough for mental health nurses too.”, joked Paul. “Twitter is where the influencers are. As US marketing guru Charlene Li said, ‘Twitter is not a technology. It’s a conversation. And it’s happening with or without you.’ It’s a professional trait of Mental Health Nurses to want to be part of the conversation.” When asked about other social media platforms, Paul said, “We’ll keep an eye on what develops: nothing is static on the internet. Facebook is too big to ignore, so we’ll certainly have a look at smartening-up IJMHN’s presence there too.”

Traditionally the success or failure of a journal article was measured by citations. The only way authors/researchers knew if their work was being read was when other authors referenced their paper. Now that IJMHN is purely an online publication (with an iPhone/iPad app), there is another metric that can be used – how often the article is shared on social media.

Social media can help drive visibility and brand awareness of the journal, and raise awareness of Mental Health Nursing’s work and contributions. For the first time in history, nurses have unmediated access to the public conversation via social media. “Social media provides a terrific opportunity for all health professionals to share and acquire information. It’s a fun way to do professional development.”, Paul said. “It’s also a good way to let people know who we are and what we do.” When asked for a recommendation about using social media, Paul said, “Just be aware that some of your patients, some of your colleagues, and some of your managers will Google your name. Make sure you’re in control of what they’ll find. Don’t be afraid. Be intentional. Make your digital footprint your CV.”

Paul’s professional digital footprint is built around the homophone “meta4RN”, which can be read as either “metaphor RN” or “meta for RN” – try Google or go to meta4RN.com to see what it’s all about.

And follow @meta4RN and @IJMHN on Twitter!

End

This blatant piece of self-promotion could possibly also be included in a newsletter/magazine, but it’s one of those publications that’s organisation/member-specific. That means only a certain group of people will see it, and it will remain unknown to those not part of the organisation. A bit secretive, eh?

Maybe a modern reworking of the biblical “don’t hide you light under a bushel” thing could be, “don’t just do stuff – blog about it!”

Or maybe not.

As always your comments/feedback is welcome below.

Paul McNamara, 9th January 2017.

Short URL: https://meta4RN.com/IJMHN

Mental Health and Cognitive Changes in the Older Adult

This afternoon I’m presenting at Ausmed’s Cairns Nurses’s Conference. The title of the presentation is “Mental Health and Cognitive Changes in the Older Adult”.

The only real point of this blog post is to leave a copy of the powerpoint presentation online, so that those attending the conference can revisit the slides PRN. Here it is:

And here’s the spiel from the Ausmed website
www.ausmed.com.au/course/cairns-nurses-conference

Mental Health and Cognitive Changes in the Older Adult

As we get older, the likelihood of undergoing alterations to brain function is high. This may include normal neurodegenerative changes as well as abnormal deteriorations. Separating normal from dysfunctional degeneration when screening and assessing an older adult is essential for quality nursing care planning. This session will look at:

  • What are normal age-related changes to the brain and consequent behavioural signs?
  • How are these changes different to the onset of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis or bipolar disorder?
  • Age appropriate assessment tools for effective mental health assessment
  • Benefits of brief psychosocial interventions
  • What practical behavioural strategies may improve outcomes for a person with a mental health disorder and cognitive changes?

About the presenter:

Paul McNamara has extensive experience providing clinical and educative mental health support in general hospital and community clinical settings. He holds hospital-based, undergraduate and post-graduate qualifications, is Credentialed by the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN), and has been a Fellow of the ACMHN since 2007. Paul is a very active participant in health care social media, and is enthusiastic about nurses embracing “digital citizenship” – more info via his website http://meta4RN.com

ausmed16

End

That’s it. Short and sweet.

I hope this is of some use/interest to those who are attending the conference, and (maybe) some people who are not able to get along.

As always, feedback is welcome in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 15 December 2016

Short URL: https://meta4RN.com/Ausmed16

 

The Broken Leg/Psychosis Metaphor

Preamble

Below is a metaphor I heard in 1994 via an impressive man called Greg Holland. Greg is retired now, but when I met him he was a CNC with a public community mental health service. Even after all the years that have followed, Greg remains one of the most skilled communicators and mental health nurses I’ve ever worked with.

Greg was talking with a couple of young fellas who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Greg was explaining the importance of trying to avoid relapses of psychosis. The key messages for these young blokes was to keep taking the prescribed medications, and stay away from things that make psychosis more likely: things like cannabis, amphetamines or heaps of alcohol. That’s when Greg used this metaphor (his verbal version was shorter than my written version, but the general story is the same):

The Broken Leg/Psychosis Metaphor

If you accidentally broke your leg skateboarding or playing football, you’d have to have your leg in plaster for about 6 weeks. You would have to be really careful with it during that time, and it would probably get really uncomfortable and itchy most days. Then, if there were no complications, after 6 weeks you’d be able to get the plaster cast off, and start building up your strength in that broken leg. A physio might recommend some exercises, but you probably wouldn’t get back to playing football or skateboarding for a few months. Rehabilitation takes a bit of time and effort, but as a young fit man you’ll make a full recovery. No worries.

If you broke the same leg again, it might be more of a big deal. You might need surgery, and they might need to strengthen the bone with steel plates or rods and screws. Sometimes people need to have external fixation: metal devices that are screwed into the bones, but sit outside the body, above the skin to stabilise the fractures. It will be messier, more painful, take longer to get out of hospital, and your leg muscles will get pretty weak. You’ll probably make a full recovery still, but it will just take more time and effort.

If you break your leg a third time, the orthopaedic nurses and doctors are going to think you’re either really unlucky or stupidly reckless. They’ll suggest that you stop skateboarding and playing football altogether. Your leg will get operated on, and the fractures will get stabilised, but the recovery will be really slow. You could end-up with a bit of a limp.

If you keep on breaking the same leg over and over again, say five, six, seven times, you will definitely end up with a limp. Might need a walking stick or something.

If you break the same leg often enough and bad enough you’ll probably end up lame: permanently disabled and unable to walk. You’ll wish you’d listened to the orthopaedic nurses and doctors, and had never gone back to skateboarding or playing football.

It’s kind of the same with psychosis.

If you lose touch with reality once or twice you’ll probably make a full recovery.

But if you keep on having psychotic episodes your brain might develop a bit of a “limp” – it will still work, but not as good as it used to work.

If you have lots of psychotic episodes you might end up disabled and unable enjoy life to the fullest. You’ll wish you’d never gone back to smoking gunja or getting pissed.

That’s why I’m working with you to prevent or cut down on psychotic relapses. Does that make sense to you?

End

I really like the broken leg/psychosis metaphor. I use a shortened version of the above script a fair bit at work, and people usually respond well to it. I’m very grateful to Greg Holland for introducing the analogy to me. It’s a good metaphor that I hope that others will find useful to use/adapt in their clinical practice too.

As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 17th November 2016

Short URL: meta4RN.com/leg

Why on earth would a Mental Health Nurse bother with Twitter? (my #ACMHN2016 presentation)

This post is a companian piece to my oral presentation at the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses 42nd International Mental Health Nursing Conference, 25 – 27 October 2016, Adelaide Convention Centre (the conference hashtag is #ACMHN2016). The function of the online version is to be a collection point to list references.

The Prezi is intended as an oral presentation, so I do not intend to include a full description of the content here.

Regular visitors to meta4RN.com will recognise some familiar themes. Let’s not call it self-plagarism (such an ugly term), I would rather think of it as a new, funky remix of a favourite old song. Due to this remixing of old content I’ve included previous meta4RN.com blog posts on the reference list (which, in turn, makes the reference list look stupidly self-referential).

abstracts

Anyway, with that embarrassing disclosure, here is the abstract and list of references  for the Prezi “Why on earth would a Mental Health Nurse bother with Twitter?

Abstract

Have you ever heard someone say something like, “Twitter doesn’t interest me – I don’t care what Justin Bieber had for breakfast”? Those people speak that way because they don’t understand the difference between personal, official and professional use of Twitter or social media more generally. Data will be presented about nurses using Twitter in a constructive, professional way, with the aim of allaying the fears of those in the pre-contemplation phase, and encouraging those in the contemplation and action phases. In recognition of nursing being a predominantly female profession, a feminist argument will be introduced that aligns the use of social media with empowerment. It will be argued that Twitter can enable and ennoble mental health nurses to engage with people beyond the “walled gardens” of our work silos, our profession, and our conference. Participants will be encouraged to have their mobile phone/tablet/laptop turned on and in use during the presentation, in the hope that we will have a shared conversation on the subject. Why on earth would a mental health nurse bother with Twitter? Answers and challenges will be available to those who attend this presentation and/or follow the conference hashtag #ACMHN2016.

References

Australian College of Nursing (n.d.) Social media guidelines for nurses. Retreived from http://www.rcna.org.au/WCM/…for_nurses.pdf

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. (2014, March 17). Social media policy. Retrieved from http://www.ahpra.gov.au/News/2014-02-13-revised-guidelines-code-and-policy.aspx

Casella, E., Mills, J., & Usher, K. (2014). Social media and nursing practice: Changing the balance between the social and technical aspects of work. Collegian, 21(2), 121–126. doi:10.1016/j.colegn.2014.03.005

Citizen Kane DVD cover. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.currentfilm.com/dvdreviews4/citizenkanedvd.html

Facebook. (2015). Facebook logo. Retrieved from https://www.facebookbrand.com/

Ferguson, C., Inglis, S. C., Newton, P. J., Cripps, P. J. S., Macdonald, P. S., & Davidson, P. M. (2014).  Social media: A tool to spread information: A case study analysis of Twitter conversation at the Cardiac Society of Australia & New Zealand 61st Annual Scientific Meeting 2013. Collegian, 21(2), 89–93. doi:10.1016/j.colegn.2014.03.002

Fox, C.S., Bonaca, M.P., Ryan, J.J., Massaro, J.M., Barry, K. & Loscalzo, J. (2015). A randomized trial of social media from Circulation. Circulation. 131(1), pp 28-33

Gallagher, R., Psaroulis, T., Ferguson, C., Neubeck, L. & Gallagher, P. 2016, ‘Social media practices on Twitter: maximising the impact of cardiac associations’, British Journal of Cardiac Nursing, vol. 11, no. 10, pp. 481-487.

Instagram. (2015). Instagram logo. Retrieved from https://help.instagram.com/304689166306603

Li, C. (2015). Charlene Li photo. Retrieved from http://www.charleneli.com/about-charlene/reviewer-resources/

lifeinthefastlane. (2013). #FOAMed logo. Retrieved from http://lifeinthefastlane.com/foam/

McNamara, P., & Meijome, X. M. (2015). Twitter Para Enfermeras (Spanish/Español). Retrieved 11 March 2015, from http://www.ausmed.com.au/es/twitter-para-enfermeras/

McNamara, P. (2014). A Nurse’s Guide to Twitter. Retrieved from http://www.ausmed.com.au/twitter-for-nurses/

McNamara, P. (2014, May 3) Luddites I have known. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/luddites

McNamara, P. (2013) Behave online as you would in real life (letter to the editor), TQN: The Queensland Nurse, June 2013, Volume 32, Number 3, Page 4.

McNamara, P. (2013, October 25) Professional use of Twitter and healthcare social media. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/NPD100

McNamara, P. (2013, October 23) A Twitter workshop in tweets. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/tweets

McNamara, P. (2013, October 1) Professional use of Twitter. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/poster

McNamara, P. (2013, July 21) Follow Friday and other twitterisms. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/FF

McNamara, P. (2013, June 7) Omnipresent and always available: A mental health nurse on Twitter. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/twit

McNamara, P. (2013, January 20) Social media for nurses: my ten-step, slightly ranty, version. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/rant1

McNamara, P. (2016, October 15) Learn about Obesity (and Twitter) via Nurses Tweeting at a Conference. Retrieved from  https://meta4RN.com/obesity

Moorley, C., & Chinn, T. (2014). Using social media for continuous professional development. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 71(4), 713–717. doi:10.1111/jan.12504

New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association [nswnma]. (2014, July 30). Women now have unmediated access to public conversation via social media for 1st time in history @JaneCaro #NSWNMAconf14 #destroythejoint [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/nswnma/status/494313737575096321

New South Wales nurses and Midwives’ Association. (2014). NSW Nurses & Midwives Association logo. Retrieved from http://housingstressed.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/NSWNMA.png

Nickson, C. P., & Cadogan, M. D. (2014). Free Open Access Medical education (FOAM) for the emergency physician. Emergency Medicine Australasia, 26(1), 76–83. doi:10.1111/1742-6723.12191

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (2010, September 9) Information sheet on social media. Retrieved from http://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/documents/default.aspx?record=WD10%2F3224&dbid=AP&chksum=qhog9%2FUCgKdssFmA0XnBlA%3D%3D

Tonia, T., Van Oyen, H., Berger, A., Schindler, C. & Künzli, N. (2016). International Journal of Public Health. 61(4), pp 513-520. doi:10.1007/s00038-016-0831-y

Twitter. (2015). Twitter logo. Retrieved from https://about.twitter.com/press/brand-assets

Wall Media. (2015). Jane Caro photo. Retrieved from http://wallmedia.com.au/jane-caro/

Wilson, R., Ranse, J., Cashin, A., & McNamara, P. (2014). Nurses and Twitter: The good, the bad, and the reluctant. Collegian, 21(2), 111–119. doi:10.1016/j.colegn.2013.09.003

WordPress. (2015). WordPress logo. Retrieved from https://wordpress.org/about/logos/

Wozniak, H., Uys, P., & Mahoney, M. J. (2012). Digital communication in a networked world. In J. Higgs, R. Ajjawi, L. McAllister, F. Trede, & S. Loftus (Eds.), Communication in the health sciences (3rd ed., pp. 150–162). South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

YouTube. (2015). YouTube logo. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/yt/brand/downloads.html

Citations

If there’s anything here of use, you can either cite this web page as:

McNamara, P.  (2016, 21 October) Why on earth would a Mental Health Nurse bother with Twitter? Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/ACMHN2016

or, if you’re pulling info direct from the abstract, use the more academic-sounding citation that’s in the IJMHN (the ACMHN journal):

McNamara, P. (2014) Why on earth would a Mental Health Nurse bother with Twitter? (presentation, ACMHN’s 42nd International Mental Health Nursing Conference Nurses striving to tackle disparity in health care 25 – 27 October 2016, Adelaide Convention Centre). International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, Vol 25, Issue S1, Pg 34. doi: 10.1111/inm.12771

End 

That’s it. As always your comments are welcome.

Paul McNamara, 21st October 2016

What can Mental Health Nurses learn from the Amazing Story of a Catholic Patron Saint? (my #ACMHN2016 conference poster)

Welcome to the online companion to my poster presentation at the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses 42nd International Mental Health Nursing Conference, 25 – 27 October 2016, Adelaide Convention Centre.

If you have 6 minutes to spare, please watch the YouTube version:

“What can mental health nurses learn from the amazing story of a catholic patron saint?” was initially submitted as an #ACMHN2016 oral presentation, but accepted as a conference poster. So, instead of updating and reworking the YouTube presentation (as I had planned), I started again. I’m not sure that the poster meets the brief (well, abstract) as well as an oral presentation would have, but anyway…

Abstract

Mental health nursing has a long tradition of story-telling as a tool for developing relationships, undertaking mental state assessment and informing clinical practice. This presentation aims to add to mental health nursing’s discourse about “how we do business”, and add another layer of cultural diversity to our narrative and identity. A review of the literature regarding a catholic patron saint called Dymphna has been undertaken. This will be summarised and presented in a manner in keeping with philosopher Alain de Botton’s proposal that religious teachings should not be trusted to the religious alone – they can be re-purposed and re-mixed to inform atheists too. The historical and mystical story of a 7th century European teenage martyr and saint will be aligned to 21st century Australian language and values. Dymphna’s tale takes unexpected twists and turns which will raise questions about Australia’s appetite for innovative models of mental health care, and whether more could be done to promote mental health nursing as a profession and an identity. This presentation will appeal to those interested in consumer-focused mental health care, innovative alternatives to mainstream care, celebrating mental health nursing, and amazing stories.

amazingstoryposter2

References

Catholic Online (n.d.) St. Dymphna. Retrieved from www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=222

Catholic Saints Info (2016, 27 July) Saint Dymphna. Retrieved from catholicsaints.info/saint-dymphna

de Botton, A. (2011, July) Alain de Botton: Atheism 2.0 [Video file] Retrieved from www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_atheism_2_0

Franciscan Mission Associates. (n.d.) The Story of St. Dymphna. Retrieved from franciscanmissionassoc.org/prayer-requests/devotional-saints/st-dymphna/story/ 

Goldstein, J.L. & Godemont, M.M.L. (2003) The Legend and Lessons of Geel, Belgium: A 1500-Year-Old Legend, a 21st-Century Model. Community Mental Health Journal. 39: 441. doi: 10.1023/A:1025813003347

Ireland’s Eye (n.d.) Saint Dymphna. Retrieved from www.irelandseye.com/irish/people/saints/dympna.shtm

Jay, M. (2014, 9 January) The Geel question. Retrieved from aeon.co/essays/geel-where-the-mentally-ill-are-welcomed-home

Kirsch, J.P. (1909). St. Dymphna. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved from New Advent: www.newadvent.org/cathen/05221b.htm

McNamara, P. (2013, 14 May) Dymphna: The Amazing Story of a Catholic Patron Saint. Retrieved from meta4RN.com/dymphna

McNamara, P. (2013, 20 May) Should May 15th be International Mental Health Nurse Day? Retrieved from meta4RN.com/may15

Novena (n.d.) Feast of St. Dympna. Retrieved from novena.com/2013/05/15/feast-of-st-dymphna/

Openbaar Psychiatrisch Zorgcentrum (OPZ) – Geel website www.opzgeel.be/en/home/htm/intro.asp

Rabenstein, K.I. (1998) Saint of the day. Retrieved from www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0515.shtml

Wikipedia (2016, 21 September) Dymphna. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dymphna

Image References

In an effort to engage conference delegates in the story of Dymphna, the poster has been made in a colourful quasi-comic style. At time of writing this (a fortnight before the conference starts),  I feel a bit anxious that someone will misinterpret the effort to visually engage people as trivialising the subject. This is a bit of a worry, because Dymphna’s story includes nasty stuff, not the least of which includes threatened incest, family violence and two people being beheaded. Even Donald Trump would know that these are not topics to be trivialised.

Although I don’t treat Dymphna’s story with the same reverence as The Pope, I do hold the stories I learnt as a catholic schoolboy with a nostalgic affection. My telling of Dymphna’s story is through the prism of a happily-lapsed-catholic, and with the words of Kirsch [see reference list above] ringing in my ears: “This narrative is without any historical foundation, being merely a variation of the story of the king who wanted to marry his own daughter, a motif which appears frequently in popular legends.” Dymphna’s amazing story is a centuries-old remix of a made-up myth. It’s not the news.

Le martyre de sainte Dymphne et de saint Gerbert (Martyrdom of St Dymphna and St Gerebernus), Seghers Gérard (1591-1651) http://www.photo.rmn.fr/archive/09-524783-2C6NU09M4JRG.html

Le martyre de sainte Dymphne et de saint Gerbert (Martyrdom of St Dymphna and St Gerebernus), Seghers Gérard (1591-1651) http://www.photo.rmn.fr/archive/09-524783-2C6NU09M4JRG.html

Openbaar Psychiatrisch Zorgcentrum (OPZ) – Geel http://www.opzgeel.be/en/home/htm/intro.asp

Openbaar Psychiatrisch Zorgcentrum (OPZ) – Geel http://www.opzgeel.be/en/home/htm/intro.asp

The Technical Stuff

The poster was made using Apple Pages running on a 2011 iMac.

The poster was made for non-commercial reasons, and full attribution has been given to the authors/works used to inform/illustrate the poster. I expect the same in return, so “What can mental health nurses learn from the amazing story of a catholic patron saint?” by Paul McNamara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License

There’s a description of how the video was made here: meta4RN.com/Dymphna 

Citations

You can either cite this web page as:

McNamara, P.  (2016, 11 October) What can mental health nurses learn from the amazing story of a catholic patron saint? Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/amazing

or, if you’re pulling info direct from the abstract, use the more academic-sounding citation that’s in the IJMHN (the ACMHN journal):

McNamara, P. (2016) What can mental health nurses learn from the amazing story of a catholic patron saint? (poster, ACMHN’s 42nd International Mental Health Nursing Conference Nurses striving to tackle disparity in health care 25 – 27 October 2016, Adelaide Convention Centre). International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, Vol 25, Issue S1, Pg 34. doi: 10.1111/inm.12771

End

I’ll leave a copy of the PDF here (amazingstoryposter2) just in case I need it one day. Things are much easier to find/share when they’re online.

Previous visitors to my website will know that I’ve covered the Dymphna story previously back in 2013. It’s not self-plagiarising if it’s referenced, is it? It’s more like a funky new remix. 🙂

If you’re at the conference, please say howdy if you see me skulking about, and/or share this web page or your pics of the poster using the #ACMHN2016 hashtag.

As always, your comments are welcome below.

Paul McNamara, 11th October 2016.