Get well soon....
Posted Thursday 15 October 2009
I've got a cold and am oscillating between coughing loudly in the hope of garnering sympathy, and pretending I'm fine due to the embarrassment at feeling so lousy with something so commonplace.
What then, to make of the recent report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists that half of people in hospital due to mental health problems do not receive any gifts or cards during their time in hospital, compared to a third of people in hospital due to physical health problems? If it is hard to admit to being laid low by the common cold, how much harder to try and explain about a mental health condition?
A British study found that psychiatric patients were significantly less likely than other patients to inform friends and family that they had been admitted to hospital, despite spending a significantly longer period of time in hospital.
The study found that the psychiatric patients received fewer cards and gifts. Further, patients with mental health diagnoses tended to receive toiletries, food and cigarettes as gifts, while other patients receive flowers, balloons, magazines and chocolates.
Another British study confirmed the finding of fewer greeting cards for patients admitted to psychiatric wards. There seems to be a combination of people in hospital due to acute mental distress being unwilling to tell people about their problems, and others not knowing what to say or do when people are admitted to hospital due to a mental health condition, so end up doing nothing. What could people need more during a time when they are on a hospital ward, feeling vulnerable and distressed, but to know that others are thinking of them?
It can be easy and inexpensive to show that you care. Some hospitals, such as the North West Wales Trust allow people to send an email to a patient that will be printed out and handed to the patient. The Royal College of Psychiatry has launched their own get well soon cards that are on sale via their website.
You could also make your own, and getting the family involved in creating or writing in a card could be a good way of having a conversation about why someone is in hospital and what they might be experiencing.
Bridget O'Connell, Head of Information
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