The Stress of Isolation on Psychiatric Patients

Submitted by McGill University
October 26, 2020

Working as a nurse at a psychiatric hospital, specializing in acute psychotic disorders, I have experienced first hand patients who are enforced to remain within the hospital grounds, with out visitors. The effects of no visitation has substantial effects on the recovery and treatment of psychiatric disorders, considering social interventions are a large part of the treatment plan. The daily routine of having visitors or leaving hospital grounds are disturbed due to the self isolation, and can disrupt the orientation of patients and cause increased amounts of stress. Working with these individuals, I have noticed an aura of melancholy brewing on the unit. Patients become increasingly agitated and foster a sense of hopelessness and paranoia, believing that the “system” is out to punish them, or that their families have given up on them. As a nurse, it was difficult to have heard and seen the effects of isolation on the clients because I felt as if I could not do anything to change the situation. However, along with my colleagues, we were able to develop social programs during these times of isolation to encourage interaction and to brighten atmosphere of the hospital. Our colleagues developed a “Coffee and Talk” group, where patients are free to participate in group discussion about anything they desire to speak about, while enjoying a cup of coffee. Positive feedback was given by the patients, it was not going to replace family visits, however it was an opportunity for patients to express how they are feeling, and to make them feel as if they are not alone, and that we are all going through isolation with the pandemic.