Mental Health


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A Student Nurse Account
By Jack Bennington

ISBN: 978-1-84991-420-8
Published: 2011
Pages: 100
Key Themes: diary, autobiography, dementia, psychology



Mental Health: A student account, a no-holes-barred account of
work on a busy dementia ward, seen through the eyes of a student
nurse undertaking a 12 hour shift. Read of the highs and lows of
working within the rewarding career of mental health. Experience
first hand the sorrow and laughter of caring for individuals with
diverse needs in a world where the bottom line and cost cutting
is paramount and what you see may not be what you get.

Also take a tour through voluntary services, through a unique
diary and discover how they are run, for better or worse. This
book is an invaluable resource for any aspiring nursing students,
individuals currently working within the systems, or those with
direct experience of mental health services in Britain today.
Read it, and make up your own mind if what we currently have
really is ‘Person Centred’ Care.

About the Author

Jack Bennington was born in 1977 in the West Midlands. He gained
a degree in Film, T.V, and Radio Studies in early 2000 but, after
developing an interest in psychology, later trained as a Mental
Health Nurse in 2007. Upon qualifying in 2010 he took up a
postion working with individuals with Dementia. Jack continues to
develop his interest and knowledge of mental health issues, in
particular the link between healthy living and psychology. He
still works closely with his local university in developing
educational and visual training tools for future mental health

Book Extract

7am – 9am

As I look at my alarm clock, which is blaring away at me with a horrible robotic sound, I realise I had pushed the snooze button about 3 times already and now it was reading 7.10am. I had to be in work in 35 minutes. It took me at least 15 minutes to drive over to the hospital, which meant I only had about 20 minutes to get changed, do all the normal bathroom chores and try to gulp a cup of coffee and grab some toast.

This was my final placement area of a three year mental health nurse training course. Many of my colleagues had felt like quitting during various parts of the course. In fact some had. It certainly wasn’t for everyone, and at times I had found my will to carry on with the course had waned at various junctures, but thanks to a combination of supportive colleagues and lecturers, I had battled through. I now had this final placement area left. An elderly dementia ward, which at full capacity contained fourteen patients. I had sensed the feeling of dread the night before, because I knew it was the other team working today’s shift. The ward had two teams working a day shift, and two teams working a night shift. This would normally consist of at least two qualified mental health nurses and three nursing assistants, and possibly additional agency staff. These agency staff had been getting a bad name lately. A lot of the time they seemed to be booked randomly to a ward they had never worked on before, which meant the nurses and nursing assistants had a harder time as they had to explain the basic running of the ward and the patients to them before they had started. A lot of the time I had heard them being described as ‘as useful as a plank of wood’. A lot of the nurses would bad mouth them behind their back. I had decided to not get into this political minefield and just keep my head down and get on with things.

I had no real complaints about them myself, except for maybe one day when I was trying to get on with my work, but one of the staff known only as ‘NT’ wanted to discuss the finer details of internet role play gaming and how he had spent most of his previous weeks staying up all night playing some war wizard and amassing lots of hit points.

I had got lucky so far in being with the better of the two teams, but I knew that Linda was on today. I just couldn’t stand the woman. She had already made my life hell by pestering me for the whole duration of a twelve hour shift, and it had worn me down. I had heard horror stories in the past of her reducing first year students to tears. I had previously worked with her the week before, and it was a nightmare. I didn’t sit down for a second, and was continually being barked at like an army cadet.

I drag myself out of bed and quickly change into my well worn white polo shirt, the industry standard. I didn’t care for it much, but the tunics I detested even more. In fact I still had three pristine packaged tunics tucked away in the corner of my wardrobe, along with the truly awful school grey trousers, which I had worn a few times, but they were just too long, and I was a man. I’ve had to claim a huge failure by not knowing how to ‘turn up’ such items. The tunics had remained packaged, as they just looked like my own version of a straitjacket. I detested uniforms enough as it was, but I was loathe to try on something that looked like it had been made with one hundred percent pure starch.

My name badge was still intact, clearly labelling me as the ‘student nurse’, a badge I would be unable to hide behind for too much longer as I was nearing the end of the placement area. I put on my black Nike trainers, a cunning new plan to get out of wearing proper shoes. I had tried shoes for a few twelve hour shifts, and my feet had just come back sweating and aching. This way my newly shiny Nike trainers would not arouse suspicion and would cleverly blend in to look like real shoes. I figure if I’m going to do twelve hour shifts, then I might as well get some comfort from wearing them.

I glance at the clock on the DVD player in my living room; 7.22am. I’m not going to have time for a cup of coffee. Why do I never get up in time? Instead I continually rush round the house, stuffing cheap wholemeal toast into my mouth whilst developing a sweat induced anxiety state. I have only myself to blame, but I just never start the morning on a very good footing.

2 reviews for Mental Health

  1. Helen Palin (verified owner)

    A very engaging and absorbing read, gives you a real sense of what it is really like working on a ward and has given me much more insight into the world of Dementia. I would highly recommend this to nursing students and nurses,and anyone with an interest in Dementia.

    The diary is also quite unique as you really feel for the writer and you get a real sense of the characters he meets along his journey. Would highly reccommend!!

  2. Elizabeth Price (verified owner)

    With an immensely readable style this book uses humour and valuable insights to encourage you to ‘make a difference’ in dementia care and complete your course and become a mental health nurse.
    This unique book will be useful to those of any age considering mental health nursing as a career, with or without previous practical experience in health care. It will help plan for and cope with the inevitable stress and frustration throughout some placement areas.

    I will recommend it to friends because once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down!

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