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How to Become a Social Change Agent for Psychiatric Mental Health

             Mental illness is a significant public health concern. Unfortunately,  society holds a negative attitude about mental illness (Casados, 2016).  The negative attitude impacts individuals on an interpersonal level,  through blaming and name-calling, and on an institutional level, through  employment discrimination (Casado, 2016). Shockingly, one study found  that 68% of Americans do not want mental illness being married into  their family, and 58% of Americans do not want people with mental  illness in the workplace (Dingfelder, 2009). Another study reported that  over 45% of people thought people with depression were unpredictable,  and 20% of people thought people with depression were dangerous  (Dingfelder, 2009).  The stigma associated with mental illness can make  psychological symptoms worse, and hinder treatment and recovery, which  can continue to compromise the individuals mental health (Casados,  2016).

             The statistics described above are astounding to me. I agree entirely  with one of the statements in the article by Bennett (2015), which  states, mental health is physical health; the two are inseparable  (para. 2). I believe a way to bridge that gap is through a new concept  in health care called patient-centered care. Patient-centered care is  providing care that focuses on physical comfort and emotional well-being  (NEJM Catalyst, 2017). It is providing care that is collaborative,  coordinated, and accessible at the right time and in the right place  (NEJM Catalyst, 2017). Patient-centered care allows the patient and  their family to be a part of the care team and play a role in decision  making (NEJM Catalyst, 2017).  If society understood patient-centered  care, then I think mental health would not be stigmatized the way it is.  

             Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) can be a social  change agent by being a voice for our patients and utilizing  patient-centered care. Practicing care coordination and collaborating  with the patient, their family, and other healthcare providers is  essential. Society has a negative attitude about mental illness because  the majority of people do not understand it. Thus, providing education  to the community is also a key to breaking the stigma. 

How I Will Advocate for Change Within My Community

I  will advocate for change in my community by practicing patient-centered  care. I will do this by including the patient and their family when  discussing options and decisions. I will listen to the patient to  understand their preferences, cultural traditions, and socioeconomic  condition (NEJM Catalyst, 2016).  I will provide education within the  community to educate those who are unfamiliar with mental illness. I  will also work in rural areas to help those in underserved areas have  access to mental health care. 




Bennett, T. (2015). Changing the way society understands mental health. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved from

Casados, A. T. (2016). What makes mental illness stigma so hard to change and to study? Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. Retrieved from

Dingfelder, S. F. (2009). Stigma: Alive and well. American Psychological Association, 40(6), 56. Retrieved from

NEJM Catalyst. (2017). What is patient-centered care? Retrieved from

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