Getting through your first mental health placement

In some ways, your first mental health placement can be more intimidating that getting through your final year exams. In the same way you feel apprehensive about the first day of university or starting a new job, your maiden placement also comes with the additional stress and unpredictability you’d expect from working with patients suffering from various mental health issues.

As with most things, the nerves and apprehension are soon replaced with a feeling of accomplishment and pride, but for those just embarking on their first mental health placement, all thoughts of positivity can seem a long way away. So, instead of being intimidated by it, here are some of tips on how to get through your first mental health placement.

Add a pinch of salt to all rumours you hear

It’s certainly not uncommon to hear all sorts of rumours in the run-up to your placement. Whether it’s tales of battle axe mentors who feast on the flesh of interns, patients that want to steal your pens or stories of previous interns miscalculating medicine dosages - they should all be taken with a pinch or two of salt and certainly not leave you a nervous mess.

Use your mentor

Every mentor has a different style. While some will insist you organise your day yourself before vanishing, never to be seen again, others will quiz you throughout your time and never be more than 10 yards away from you. Your mentor is there to help you, so don’t feel intimidated or unable to speak to them. It’s not uncommon to clash with a mentor’s particular style, but if you really are uncomfortable, you don’t have to feel stuck – speak to up and air your concerns.

Prepare but don’t over prepare

While preparation is important, you really don’t want to be overprepared. It’s good to go over your assessment book before your placement, or to do some research on the mental health conditions you’ll likely to be experiencing, but other than that, you shouldn’t feel the need to stress yourself out with preparation. Rather than sticking your head in a book in the days before your placement, plan your first day, from travelling to your placement to things you want to achieve during your time there. There will be plenty of occasions during the day to do additional research, if needed, and you want to make sure you are relaxed on your first day.

Wednesday Apr 25, 2018