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Meet Erica Hall, a registered nurse who works in the behavioral health unit at Adena Regional Medical Center. In the course of her work, she works with patients who are dealing with a wide range of conditions, including such things as addiction, depression, and psychosis.

A lifelong desire to help

“When I was younger, I always did candy striping and things like that. I spent my lunch time while in middle school helping the kids with disabilities, just taking care of people. My best friend also had a car accident coming home from my house and she ended up a quadriplegic, so I spent years helping take care of her. I just always had a heart to help.”

A typical day … or not?

“In mental health, nothing is really typical. We come in and sometimes everything is cool, calm, and collected and sometimes not so much. Things can change in an instant working in mental health and things are never black and white in psych. Normally, our morning starts with our med pass, vitals, and breakfast, as I’m sure most other units do. After that, we have group therapy for our patients. We are able to spend time with them and find out what is going on with them that day – are they still feeling suicidal, homicidal, depressed, or anxious? Are they having hallucinations? Basically figuring out what we can do to help them get through the day.”

It’s all in the approach

“Approach is different with every patient. There’s some patients you need to approach from a distance depending on what is going on with them. I feel like you just need to be transparent and just be who you are with a patient, letting them know they’re in a safe environment and that they can be honest and talk about whatever they need to. It’s important to create a therapeutic space for our patients where they feel safe, a place where they can come and know they are not being judged.”

Breaking the stigma

“There can be such a stigma associated with mental health, it’s almost like it’s taboo and nobody wants to talk about it for fear that someone will think less of them for having mental health issues. The fact is that a huge percentage of the population has some sort of mental health issues. Be it anxiety, depression, or addiction, it is everywhere whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. That’s why it is so important not to stigmatize individuals who struggle with it. We need to always treat them with dignity and respect.”

Can’t imagine doing anything else

“Honestly, I had never considered doing behavioral health until I got the job. I had been doing home health throughout my nursing career and found mental health to be a great change in direction for me. I was thankful for the change because it has helped me understand different aspects of my own life. I’ve been to some of the dark places my patients have been to and, as a result, I am sometimes able to share my experiences with them which, in turn, shows them they are not alone in this. I love working in mental health and I really can’t imagine ever doing anything else.”

Is this line of work for you?

“You have to have compassion and understanding to be able to take care of people. The patients will know who cares and if you don’t, they can tell. To go into this field, be willing and ready to work hard. In nursing, you have to love what you’re doing. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re probably not going to make a real great nurse.”

To learn more

To find out more about Adena’s behavioral health services, click here. For a complete listing of available career opportunities with the health system, visit https://www.adena.org/careers/search-for-jobs