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Influencing Mental Health Care Through Advocacy.

Recognizing the worth of every human life is central to nursing practice. Advocacy in nursing refers to a practice whereby one fights for the patients’ rights and wellbeing by ensuring quality care is provided and maintained throughout (Nsiah et al., 2019). Three years ago, my 24 y/o cousin who I stay with, got diagnosed with an alcohol dependence problem. This was after several years of desperately requesting him to minimize his excessive drinking habit. After several attempts, he finally agreed to comply to drug treatment which involved the use of an Antabuse drug known as Disulfiram. He even enrolled to the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) which is a group therapy association that helps alcoholics recover from addiction.

From his own words, prolonged unsatisfactory moments filled with the failure to achieve success made him lose pleasure from daily life, sending him to a drinking frenzy and substance abuse. It was at this moment that I realized alcohol dependence has arisen from his fight against depression. I immediately booked him an appointment with a Lay counsellor who was recommended by a friend-nurse at the clinic. Alcohol dependence and Depressive disorders (DD) have been found to be comorbid. In a recent study, there was a clear link between alcohol dependent persons and depression (Lasserre et al., 2022). Fortunately, I was able to squeeze time in my busy schedule to accompany him for group and talk therapy at AA. I also coordinated with his counsellor on strategies to help him cope with the depressive conditions, so as to prevent him from slipping back into drinking and substance use. One of the interventions used was the Counselling for Alcohol Problems (CAP). The intervention is brief, usually involves 4 sessions, and is a psychological treatment involving interviewing the patient (Synowski et al., 2021). Things that the therapy helped my cousin learn included cognitive, behavioral, and problem-solving skills, tackling pressure and difficult emotions, and dealing with relapses.

Since the counsellor provided a printed manual to act as a guidance for the aforementioned steps, I took responsibility to be the one watching guard as my cousin went through the therapy. The counsellor highly commended my efforts and contribution towards my cousin’s treatment and recovery, indicating that most people suffering from alcohol dependence and depression are usually unable to seek treatment until reaching a health crisis. My cousin even admitted that his decision to get treated from his condition and revamp his career as a botanist was mainly influenced by my continuous efforts. Additionally, I had the capability to forge a therapeutic alliance with him through his psychological treatment since I possessed some knowledge on psychological interventions for conditions such as depression and anxiety.

I continued helping him with his coping mechanisms, psychological issues, problem solving, and self-monitoring techniques that later saw my cousin recover fully both alcohol dependence and his depressive condition over a span of 6 months.

 

 

References

Lasserre, A. M., Imtiaz, S., Roerecke, M., Heilig, M., Probst, C., & Rehm, J. (2022). Socioeconomic status, alcohol use disorders, and depression: A population-based study. Journal of Affective Disorders301, 331-336.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2021.12.132

Nsiah, C., Siakwa, M., & Ninnoni, J. P. (2019). Registered nurses’ description of patient advocacy in the clinical setting. Nursing Open6(3), 1124-1132.  https://doi.org/10.1002/nop2.307

Synowski, J., Weiss, H. A., Velleman, R., Patel, V., & Nadkarni, A. (2021). A lay-counsellor delivered brief psychological treatment for men with comorbid alcohol use disorder and depression in primary care: Secondary analysis of data from a randomized controlled trial. Drug and Alcohol Dependence227, 108961.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.108961