Mental health problems can affect anyone at any age. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness in any given year. This shows that mental health is a major problem in Canada today.
Personal support workers provide life-changing care to clients who are older, chronically ill, or living with a mental or physical disability. While difficulties with mental health might be more difficult to spot, this ‘invisible’ illness can have a huge and damaging impact on people’s lives.
Read on to find out how you could help clients who are struggling with mental health during your personal support worker career.
Spot the Signs After Personal Support Worker Courses
Mental health is just as important as physical health. After graduating from personal support worker courses, knowing how to spot warning signs could help ensure that your healthcare team provides the support that clients most need.
Unlike physical pain like a broken leg, mental health problems can be a lot harder to identify in others. As well as this, it can be difficult for people to find the words to explain to others how they are feeling and what they are experiencing. This makes it even more important for personal support workers to pay attention to their clients, and look for signs that they are struggling.
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health illnesses. Someone who is struggling with depression and/or anxiety might change their sleeping and eating habits. Are they sleeping significantly more or less than the average person? Have they lost their appetite, or are they binge eating? Sometimes, these can be signs of a mental illness.
Listen to Clients Carefully
In our PSW program, one of the main ways you can learn to help someone–who is struggling with their mental health–is to listen and provide emotional support. As part of your training, you will learn how to be an active and non-judgemental listener. Ask open-ended questions such as ‘how are you feeling today?’
By being ready to listen, you can help the client feel less alone and assure them that they always have someone to talk to when they need. However, be careful not to pressure clients into talking about something if they don’t want to. Mental health can be a very sensitive topic.
Provide Practical as Well as Emotional Support
If someone is struggling with mental illness, practical tasks like cooking and cleaning can fall to the bottom of the list. Helping someone with these daily tasks as a personal support worker can help to greatly reduce people’s feelings of anxiety, and is an easy and practical way to provide support.
This is also a way to ensure that the client is living a healthy lifestyle, which could improve their mental health. You could help the client to eat and sleep well, and even exercise outside if possible.
Know When to Refer Them to a Professional
There might be moments in your career as a personal support worker when a client may need to be referred to another professional. If a client is self-harming or showing signs of being suicidal, it’s important to escalate this and notify an appropriate healthcare professional because the client could be in danger.
Do you want to help others by taking a PSW course?
Contact Medix College today!