Is hope what is lacking in mental health facilities? Do patients in recovery centers, hospitals, treatment centers have hope that they will be better? Are we as mental health professionals helping our patients feel a hope that they can recover? How do you cultivate hope in a treatment center?
Hope is essential to any person dealing with a mental illness or addiction; hope that they can recover, have a job, create healthy relationships and be able to bounce back from hardships and suffering in life. Therefore it is necessary that our treatment centers have an atmosphere of hope and a belief that every patient can have a better life.
First thing we can do to bring ‘Hope’ back into mental health is to…
- Create a philosophy of having ‘Positive Goals’ as opposed to ‘Avoiding Negative Outcomes’.
Having positive goals and giving them the tools to fight off negative outcomes creates a more positive path for patients to follow. Instead of telling patients all the things they shouldn’t do or avoid focus on the positive outcomes that recovery has to offer.
- Use Hopeful Language Explicitly and Implicitly
The most damaging statement that could be made to patients undergoing treatment and recovery is to hear that they will never be able to have a normal functional life with jobs, family, relationships etc. This brings about hopelessness which in turn leads to negative outcomes. Our language as mental health professionals should exude hope explicitly by telling them all the wonderful things they can accomplish; and implicitly using positive words when talking about treatment plans and goals. We must be careful to avoid definitive statements about their future and focus on tools and resources that can help them accomplish what they want out of life.
- Bring Hope even in Relapse
No matter the downfalls, the temptations, the obstacles or the difficulties you don’t know what will finally help a patient recovery. Patients need help knowing that there is someone out there that won’t give up on them. We can’t have patients believe that we are ‘just doing our jobs’ or that we ‘don’t believe that they can change’. Through our efforts of teaching our patients to face despair and deal with their defeats we can then focus on hope and learning from their victories.