The importance of ethics in delivering safe and proficient mental healthcare is too hard to ignore, especially considering that this patient population is stigmatized, vulnerable and often oppressed. Nurses can consider mental health patients’ needs from several angles through the psychiatric nursing code of ethics and ensure a safe treatment environment. Ethical considerations and legal parameters also ensure that psychiatric nurses treat everyone equally and individually while protecting patients’ privacy rights.
Circumstances in which ethical considerations are vital
Mental health nurse leaders hold great responsibility regarding ethical issues as they are the ones their nurses turn to for guidance and direction during challenging situations. This calls for them to make highly moral decisions that honor the patients’ best interests and preferences. There are a number of circumstances in which ethical considerations are vital – some of these are explored below.
Acquiring informed consent
Mental health nurses must get the patient’s go-ahead before conducting any treatment or procedure unless the patient is unconscious. It is common for mental health patients to decline medical care. According to the National Institutes of Health, some mental health patients refuse treatment because they lack decision-making capacity. As a psychiatric nurse, you must consider these circumstances before proceeding with the treatment or procedure.
Ensuring patient confidentiality
Psychiatric nurses need to decide who must be informed about the patient’s treatment journey without breaching confidentiality.
It takes considerable courage for mental health patients to seek treatment. Therefore, the least that psychiatric nurses can do is to be honest, even when delivering news that the patient may not want to hear. These patients also depend on nurses to provide information about their diseases and medications truthfully.
Addressing traditional beliefs
Mental health patients and family members may reject conventional mental healthcare. Recent data shows that some patients report difficulty in finding a mental health nurse with an understanding of their religious beliefs.
Ethical guidelines of psychiatric mental health nursing
Through ethical guidelines and legal parameters, psychiatric mental health nurses can navigate these challenging scenarios and fulfill their responsibilities. In the below sections, we discuss the main ethical guidelines in psychiatric mental health nursing that empower nursing professionals to deliver sufficient care and attention to their patients.
Autonomy is among the most essential ethical considerations in mental health nursing. It speaks to the patient’s right to self-determination and decision-making based on their preferences, beliefs and values. Providing autonomy ensures that patients’ beliefs and values are respected while making them more involved in their healing journey.
The American Nurses Association defines beneficence as “actions guided by compassion”. This concept ensures that mental health nurses understand the specific situations of their patients. It is important to understand that what is beneficial and appropriate for one patient might not be so for another.
The beneficence principle mandates that mental health nurses provide the best care possible by acting in a beneficial way toward their patients. If nurses lack beneficence, it can lead to negative consequences related to patient safety and non-compliance. In contrast, nurses practicing beneficence can enhance their care by helping their patients feel protected and supported.
Effective mental health care relies significantly on nonmaleficence. Practicing nonmaleficence ensures that psychiatric nurses protect patient safety and enhance health outcomes. This demands that mental health nurses have a good working knowledge of the influence of socio-economic factors on mental health and the different interventions.
Rockhurst University, a leading provider of online psych NP programs, places emphasis on patient safety elements and ethical considerations. A program such as the online Master of Science in Nursing – Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MSN-PMHNP) run by Rockhurst University will help graduates to naturally display nonmaleficence, ensuring that work environment risks are eliminated, and excellent mental healthcare is delivered.
Nonmaleficence in mental health nursing includes depriving a patient of medication unless their symptoms are verified, stopping medications with inadequate responses, and discontinuing a treatment plan that appears to be doing more harm than good. For example, mental health nurses can conduct a number of evaluations to examine a patient’s responses when giving medication.
Justice in psychiatric mental health nursing means that patients have the right to fair and equitable treatment regardless of their circumstances. On the surface, this might seem straightforward, but the challenge comes when dealing with a patient who has a particular personality disorder or behavioral abnormality. Patient theatrics may prove difficult to deal with, and spending time with a patient may be challenging. However, as a mental health nurse, you must set your feelings toward the patient aside. You must distribute care equitably despite any challenges you encounter regarding patient behavior.
Also, if a mental health nurse favors one patient or demographic over another, it can result in the latter feeling abandoned or rejected. When psychiatric mental health professionals are in these situations, they can increase the likelihood of patients feeling valued. As a result, patients become more compliant with care.
Veracity is one of the most challenging guidelines to adhere to, as it requires that a mental health nurse speak the truth even if it would upset the patient. Through veracity, mental health nurses and their patients can establish trust. It helps to combine and improve patient interactions, create effective treatment programs, and set realistic goals.
Although concealing facts might comfort patients or their families in the short term, it can have more adverse effects in the long term despite the nurse’s best intentions. Communication becomes more challenging and complicates mental healthcare when nurses are not telling the truth. If patients believe that they cannot depend on nurses, it can result in them separating themselves and becoming disobedient.
Continued learning and development
Mental health nurse professionals should make the effort to learn more about ethical considerations and legal parameters to advance the wellbeing of individuals with mental illnesses. The best way to do this is by enhancing your education. If you are interested in doing this, why not look into enrolling in a course such as an online MSN-PMHNP?