A nurse’s insight into World Health Day

Providing care for people with or at risk of depression is not limited to those working in mental health areas. Patients seeking treatment for physical ailments can also need care for their emotional wellbeing.

St John of God Health Care neurosurgeryNeurosurgical Nurse Manager Mark Flynn says depression, this year’s World Health Day focus, is a condition he watches for with many of his patients.

“On the neurosurgical ward, the majority of our patients are recovering from brain or spinal surgery and the complications of either surgery can have a profound impact on both the patients and their relatives,” he said.

“Physically some patients may experience a loss of motor function, cognitive function and loss confidence in their body image which can all increase the risk of depression.

“Likewise the draining aspect of chronic, long term pain, particularly associated with spinal surgery, can markedly increase the risks.”

Mark said nurses had the privileged position of accompanying patients on their health journey, and could play a big role in helping them stay emotionally well.

“To spend time with a patient, involve them in their care planning and listening to their needs can all have a major impact,” he said.

“For patients who are struggling with their emotional wellbeing while in our care, this is particularly important. Celebrating small victories, setting realistic goals and as much as possible, empowering the patient can have a positive effect on improving their emotional and physical wellbeing.”

World Health Day on April 7 marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation, with this year’s focus on Depression: Let’s Talk which aims to help reduce the stigma surrounding the condition and reduce barriers for people seeking help.

What is depression?

Depression is an illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities for at least two weeks.

 St John of God Health Care DepressionSt John of God Health Care depression treatment

About Mark Flynn

Mark is the Neurosurgical Nurse Manager at St John of God Subiaco Hospital. He has more than 22 years’ nursing experience including working in neurosurgical units in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.