While first-line treatments for mental health crises are typically medication and psychological therapies, lifestyle modifications can also be recommended when the patient has been stabilized enough to receive and retain information. Many of my adolescent patients suffer from anxiety and depression and have erratic sleep schedules as well as addictions to their cell phones and social media. These types of patients grew in numbers in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic where children were kept indoors and attended school online. Adolescents started going to sleep later and waking up later, feeling less and less motivated to do well in their studies. I’ve had to encourage numerous patients to modify their sleep habits, one being to reduce exposure to light prior to sleeping, especially blue light from their smartphones (Sarris & Firth, 2018).
Two strategies used in the simulation that I use are encouraging the patient to ask questions and using the teach-back method to ensure that the patient understood what was taught. There were times where a patient misunderstood and repeated the information I presented incorrectly. I was then able to clarify and correct any misunderstandings by re-wording what I said in simpler terms and had them teach back until they had a good grasp of what was taught.
One of the biggest challenges I face when trying to improve health literacy in adolescent patients is their lack of insight into their current situation. Many of my patients tend to blame their parents for their situation, and while that may be the case for a good number of them, they create an emotional barrier to learning any lifestyle modifications.
I personally Always involve the patients and their families in healthcare decisions. I work with hospice patients and their families; their pain management is a priority. Because I deal with dying patients, we use opioids to manage pain. Over the years, I have had patient families telling me that they will not give the morphine. It is my job to educate them that just because the patient is on hospice, they don’t start taking the morphine right away; if their pain is managed with Tylenol, then they stay on that until they may need something stronger . Strategies I use that were mentioned in the simulation are active listening, medication reconciliation, and teach back.