20 Commandments for Mental Health Workers

One of the suggestions from yesterday’s discussion was to increase the variety of content. On that note I’m reposting this fantastic ’20 Commandments for Mental Health Workers’ for discussion here.

Originally published here by Magreeth H. Re-posted by permission of the author.

  1. Thou shalt respect your client and not judge;
  2. Thou shalt increase the well-being, opportunities and happiness of your client;
  3. Thou shalt be in time for appointments and ‘phone calls. It will show your client that he matters;
  4. Thou shalt have a well-chosen and well-timed sense of humour;
  5. Thou shalt reconsider your ‘professional distance’ if it makes your client feel he stands alone; Show that you are a person too.
  6. Thou shalt not let your bad mood or personal issues influence your professional attitude;
  7. Thou shalt have an open conversation if your client is suicidal and give good support and protection if necessary;
  8. Thou shalt not hide behind a newspaper on the ward or make any other unapproachable impression otherwise;
  9. Thou shalt not hide and chat in the nurses’ offices but be with your clients as much as possible to create a safe and friendly environment;
  10. Thou shalt consider family and good friends of your clients as team players (unless it’s impossible) and support them well in the interests of your client;
  11. Thou shalt inspire and support your colleagues to make mental healthcare as good and friendly as possible and ask and give feedback on a regular basis to become a ‘winning team’;
  12. Thou shalt inform your clients well about side effects of medication, observe well and help to find solutions if needed;
  13. Thou shalt not avoid the subject ‘sexual side effects of medication’;
  14. Thou shalt help your client to get good dental and physical care and support them on doctor and dentist visits if needed;
  15. Thou shalt help your client to exercise on a regular basis (walk, run, cycle etc) to increase their health
  16. Thou shalt support your client to overcome financial or housing problems and fight bureaucracy;
  17. Thou shalt listen well to the client’s aspirations for their life and give support to achieve them;
  18. Thou shalt stand up for the rights of your client;
  19. Thou shalt fight the stigma of mental illness on every opportunity;
  20. Thou shalt help your client to keep up hope.
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About Zarathustra

Trained as a nurse, currently working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Co-editing the Not So Big Society blog. May possibly be an incorporeal being called Phil Dore. All views expressed are in a personal capacity and not necessarily the views of my employer.

9 Responses to “20 Commandments for Mental Health Workers”

  1. Wow. These Commandments are fine and would be a good thing for any and all MH workers to subscribe to but I guess they would be hard to keep up to all the time. It would be easy for me to say I have experienced them all being broken at some time or other but I can think of one MH professional who has treated me this way.

  2. I’d like to see it tacked on some ward office doors as a reminder of what to aspire to. Way better than the stupid Tidal Model.

  3. So you made a decision in which direction to take TWIM then?

    • At the moment we’re toying with some suggestions.

      One possible thought that I’m giving a whirl is to re-publish posts that bloggers felt they were particularly proud of, but have now been buried in their blog archives. Basically giving good material a second airing , in keeping with the “Best of the Madosphere” tagline.

      There should be something along those lines from Stuart Sorensen being posted tomorrow.

  4. I have to admit this post did make me smile…

  5. I’d add to that –

    thou shalt believe what your client tells you and never denigrate their reality [look what happened in Terminator 2!]
    thou shalt work within your clients beliefs, outlook and language irrespective of whether you agree with it
    thou shalt never impose any ideology on your client
    thou shalt respect your client enough to let them disagree with you
    thou shalt sit and feel the crap with your client as required and not ‘jolly along’ avoiding how bad a person feels and their right to feel hopeless sometimes
    thou shalt fight diagnostic, medical and political discrimination with and for your client
    thou shalt not prescribe recovery to your client

    Tidal Model – yep it jumped onto the recovery bandwagon but when it first started it had some useful bits like avoiding close obs and engaging with people instead. Everywhere ends up pinned to the recovery star

  6. Love your neighbour as yourself: really doesn’t get much simpler than that, I guess, unless you’ve got self-hate/low self-esteem problems in which case it’s love your neighbour as you wish you could love yourself. Or as our beloved prime minister said, “Do to others as you’d have them do to you.” Oops, sorry – that was Jesus, wasn’t it? I’m easily confused these daze…

  7. A nice list. However, apart from a suggestion in no. 11 about ‘team’, there is nothing here about practitioner self-care. Surely this is an important aspect of supporting clients?


  1. The Sorry State of ‘ Mental Health’ in India « Unwrapping Minds - 10 April 2012

    [...] 20 Commandments for Mental Health Workers (twim-blog.org) [...]


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