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Should Mental Health Workers Quit Smoking?

By Therealsupermum @TheRealSupermum

I watched an interesting Twitter conversation this evening, when a community mental health nurse suggested mental health workers should promote a smoke free environment around their clients. Nurse With Glasses  who wrote the 20 Commandments for Mental Health workers and a lady I admire. I often read her tweets and this one caught my eye.

Should Mental Health Workers Quit Smoking?

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Of course I understand her professionalism and would agree that mental health professionals should be behaving in an appropriate manner at all times and having a fag hanging out the side of their mouths is never a great luck but …

My  first community mental health nurse, who I had not had much chance of building a relationship with was driving me to the local hospital to attend a psychiatric appointment with me. I was terrified. I had no idea what to expect from the appointment and to be honest, just being in the var with a women I hardly knew was freaking me out.

“Are you OK?” she asked as she could see my hands shaking vigorously in my lap

“Have I time for a cigarette before I go in?” I asked. I was beside myself, I know a fag would not help me, but it was the only answer I had ready to her question.

“Here” she said reaching into her glove compartment when we stopped at traffic lights and taking out a packet of cigarettes, OK so they were not my brand and were super long, but I welcomed one.

I took 2 out of the packet and handed her one.

“Oh I’m not allowed to smoke when I am working” she informed me

“I won’t tell if you don’t” I told her smiling.

That broke the ice. I relaxed.

For the remaining of the journey I was able to forget I was the crazy and she was the doctor as such. We were just two women driving along. That simple cigarette stopped me feeling so isolated and a freak, she was only driving me as I was unable to attend on my own. I was taking up her time because I was scared to get on a bus alone.

That cigarette broke the ice, I accepted her as “just another person”. She had something in common with me.

Now I am not saying that all mental health nurses should take up smoking to fit in with their clients, but should they have to stop smoking around their workplace or not be allowed to have a cigarette if its upon the request of a client to join them?

I wonder what your own views are? Should Mental Health Workers Quit Smoking?


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