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Student comes to the rescue of ill man

22nd January 2016

A nursing student who cared for a mentally ill man who was self-harming on public transport has spoken to Northumbria University News about the incident. 

Second year Mental Health Nursing student, Kerry Dickson, was travelling home on the bus when she became concerned about the welfare of a passenger. Kerry sat with him and offered him reassurances after hearing that he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which was causing him to suffer delusions and hear voices.

However, he grew increasingly distressed and began to self-harm, saying he was hearing voices telling him to strangle Kerry. Kerry succeeded in calming him down while contacting the emergency services for further assistance.

She said: “As a student mental health nurse, I felt I had a duty of care to the man – especially when he told me he had walked out of the ward he was on. Some onlookers told me to stay away from him, but the reason I got into mental health nursing was to care for people and to reduce the stigma around mental health issues.

“He was attempting to escape the bus from the back windows. I calmed him down and phoned the police, who sent two officers to meet the bus at Haymarket Bus Station. When they arrived, they told me they had taken him to the Royal Victoria Infirmary that morning to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act but he had escaped. I just hope now that the man will be okay and get the help he needs.”

Students on Northumbria’s Mental Health Nursing course divide their time between the lecture theatre and work placements in NHS, private and community care settings to give them practical experience and the essential skills required for going into the world of nursing. In fact, Kerry had just finished a 12-hour shift at St George’s Hospital in Morpeth when she boarded the bus.

She said: “Being on placement and learning about different mental health issues and medications gives you a good knowledge and the ability to assess the level of risk in a situation like this. Although I’m not a fully qualified nurse yet, I do think my course has provided me with the skills I needed to de-escalate the situation that day.”

After hearing about the incident, Kerry’s tutors were quick to praise her actions, presenting her with an award in recognition of her quick-thinking response.

Sandra Moran, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health and Kerry’s tutor, said: “Kerry has clearly demonstrated that she has the core qualities and values that contribute to excellence in mental health nursing, reflecting a high level of compassion, dedication and commitment to supporting people who are vulnerable. These are the qualities that we actively seek when interviewing potential candidates to undertake nursing studies in mental health.”

For more information on Nursing at Northumbria, click here.

 

 

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