Mental Health in the Healthcare Arena


Mental health considers individuals’ behavioral, cognitive, and emotional well-being, focusing on how they conduct themselves, think, and feel. Exploring the history of mental health theories, biases, and ethical and legal aspects associated with it is instrumental in understanding challenges linked to caring for patients and families in this field of healthcare. The theories that guide care in the mental health field include behaviorism, biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, and humanistic perspectives.

Some of the legal and ethical aspects of caring for patients with mental health disorders include confidentiality and disclosure, harm prevention, insanity pleas’ outcome, and mentally ill patients’ absconding behavior. The socio-economic status of the patient family and community are essential factors attributed to mental health. Adherence to the nursing process in mental healthcare is instrumental in providing safe care to mentally ill individuals.


Mental health considers individuals’ behavioral, cognitive, and emotional well-being, focusing on how they conduct themselves, think, and feel. Mental health has a significant influence on relationships, physical health, and the daily living of people. Psychiatrists and other healthcare professionals ensure that people with mental health problems lead an everyday life. Exploring the history of mental health theories, biases, and ethical and legal aspects associated with it is instrumental in understanding the challenges linked with caring for mentally ill patients.

Theories Used To Guide Care in the Mental Health Arena

The theories that guide care in the mental health field include behaviorism, biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, and humanistic perspectives. The behaviorism theory holds that life experiences conduct contributes to mental illness and not the unconscious mind (Miller, 2021). The biological concept is the medical approach used to treat mental disorders. Health care providers using this model believe that inner physical disorder is the leading cause of mental illness.

The psychodynamic perspective, like behaviorism, associates experiences with a particular behavior. Nevertheless, therapists focus on experiences, asserting that unconscious forces drive individuals’ behavior. The cognitive theory emphasizes thinking, and therapists using this perspective are determined to change mentally ill person’s thoughts, altering their behavior and feelings (Miller, 2021). The humanistic model helps therapists establish an environment of acceptance, empathy, and genuineness to promote self-exploration.

Legal and Ethical Aspects of Caring For Patients with Mental Health Disorders

The ethical aspects associated with caring for mentally ill patients include confidentiality and disclosure, harm prevention, access and use of services, and justice. Notably, confidentiality is one of the fundamental aspects that define the patient-physician relationships in mental health. Healthcare providers have to ensure that their client’s information (health status) remains undisclosed to unauthorized persons (Bonnie & Zelle, 2019).

However, healthcare providers can find themselves in trouble for disclosing patients’ information to a third party. For instance, psychiatrists can discuss diagnosis and treatments with clients’ spouses for the safety and well-being of their families. Unfortunately, a husband or wife can use the information for other purposes, such as filing for a divorce. Such an issue can attract legal litigation against the physician. The involuntary interventions to mental illness to prevent harm raises concern about the ethics of coercion. Although all individuals have the right to justice, services, and supports from society, people with mental illnesses have inadequate access to these amenities.

Insanity pleas’ outcome, psychiatrists appearing before the court, and mentally ill patients’ absconding behavior are critical legal aspects surrounding caring for individuals with mental health disorders. If individuals accused of committing crimes show evidence they have been under psychiatric treatment before the incident, the doctor who was treating them is likely to be summoned to court to testify (Bonnie & Zelle, 2019).

In this regard, psychiatrists need adequate documented evidence to prove that their client’s mental condition could have influenced them to wrongdoing. The court may also consider the therapists incompetent enough to give evidence due to a lack of forensic psychiatry training. Equally, mental health care providers may be unwilling to be involved in their clients’ legal factors (Bonnie & Zelle, 2019). Mentally ill patients may escape from nursing homes or psychiatric hospitals, which may risk harming themselves, families, and friends, as well as properties. As a result, healthcare providers can be accused of being irresponsible and negligent in a court of law.

Socio-Economic Status of the Patient Family and Community

The socio-economic status of the patient family and community are essential factors attributed to mental health. The factors at are family level may include adverse early life experiences, poverty, poor education, poor housing, and unemployment. For instance, a youth who was a victim of defilement in his or her early childhood is likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Frewen et al., 2019). Social exclusion, racial discrimination, and exposure to conflicts and violence are some of the determinants of mental health in the community. For example, racial discrimination and social exclusion can lead to stress and depression.

Victims of discrimination are usually deprived of equal accessibility or opportunities in their community, making them feel like lesser human beings or unworthy. Exposure to violence and conflicts can cause fear, anxiety, stress, and PTSD in the worst cases.

History of Mental Health Policy

Mental health conditions and their interventions are not a new phenomenon in the healthcare sector. Families and friends were responsible for their loved ones who were mentally ill during the colonial era in the United States. However, the hope for finding causes and treatments for mental sickness started in the 1700s, and the first psychiatric hospital was established in 1773 (Bonnie & Zelle, 2019). According to Bonnie and Zelle (2019), the number of these mental health institutions multiplied dramatically in the 1800s. Additionally, the law authorized the involuntary confinement of individuals with mental health conditions into institutionalized care models. The law enforcement officers were mandated to ensure public health and safety and protect citizens who cannot do that to themselves.

The institutionalized model was then followed by deinstitutionalization in the 1960s, which led to the emergence of modern era mental health policy. The move led to the closing and downsizing significantly of psychiatric hospitals in the United States (Bonnie & Zelle, 2019). Some of the factors that drove deinstitutionalization oppressive and dehumanizing accusations of the previous model cost of care and civil rights movements for mentally ill individuals.

Mental health was further developed to include legal and ethical aspects related to patients’ rights and treatment needs. The policy accentuates the need for physicians to respect their clients’ autonomy, protecting the latter are right to get complete information and decide what kind of treatment they would like to receive(Bonnie & Zelle, 2019 ). Individuals with mental health disorders were confined in asylums with little or no care in the past. Treatment modalities involve the governments establishing psychiatric hospitals where patients are given psychotherapy and medication interventions.

Biases Related to Mental Illness

Although every individual can get a mental illness, people with the latter conditions are victims of various biases. The most common bias is that mentally ill persons are unpredictable and dangerous. The media reinforce this type of stereotype through reports that portray people with mental health disorders as a threat to society. Another bias is that persons with mental illness are incompetent, which is not always true. Another bias is that mentally ill individuals deserve to be blamed for their conditions. This is bias is based on the assumption persons with mental health conditions have flaws or weaknesses that lead to their problems (Eylem et al., 2020). Lastly, mental health patients have minimal hope for recovery and leading a normal life. These biases may prevent individuals with mental health disorders from seeking medications and interacting with other people.

The Importance of Critical Thinking When Caring for Mentally Ill

Critical thinking plays an imperative role when caring for patients with mental health conditions. According to Liu et al. (2021), critical thinking facilitates an effective clinical decision-making process. Critical thinking is an approach to systematic, reflective, rational, and outcome-oriented thinking. The decisions made through critical thinking lead to appropriate care for mentally ill individuals, guaranteeing their safety and better outcomes. Critical thinking also allows psychiatric nurses to establish a trusting relationship with their clients, alleviating chances for patients’ non-compliance behavior.

Nursing Process in Mental Health to Provide Safe Care to the Patient

The nursing process is instrumental in ensuring the safe delivery of services. The process involves assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation (“The Nursing Process”, n.d.). Healthcare providers collect and analyze data about the patient with mental illness through assessment to ensure safe care. The information collected is related to psychological, physiological, spiritual, economic, and sociocultural factors. Physicians then use the information to make a clinical judgment about the client’s mental condition. They then use the former and latter phases of the nursing process to set measurable and achievable goals for the patient, including managing symptoms through counseling and medications. The next step is implementing a care plan followed by an evaluation to know the patient’s status and the effectiveness of providing mental health care. Notably, evaluation is done continuously to facilitate necessary modifications that guarantee patients’ safety.

Critical Thinking Models and Theories

There are various critical thinking (CT) models and theories that facilitate an effective decision-making process. Examples of CT models include Paul’s critical thinking model and the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) model. Paul’s model holds that CT and creative thinking are inseparable. According to the model, an individual mind can filter particular thoughts in response to a specific stimulus (Worthington, 2019; Wieth et al., 2019). On the other hand, the CPS model describes a process that changes open-ended questions’ answers into strategies that can yield solutions (Amran et al., 2019). The stage theory and Watson-Glaser’s Critical Thinking Skills are popular perspectives of critical thinking.

The stage theory considers critical thinking as a process involving different levels of thinking. According to Leon (2020), the levels of thinkers include reflective thinkers, challenged thinkers, beginning thinkers, practicing thinkers, advanced thinkers, and master thinkers. An individual’s critical thinking skills develop as they move up from challenged thinker to master thinker. Glatzer’s critical thinking perspective indicates that CT involves three remarkable things (Zulmaulida et al., 2018). The first thing is a wise attitude when considering issues followed by logical investigation knowledge, and the last one is about developing skills needed to apply CT. The model that I can use as a foundation for decision-making is Paul’s model of critical thinking since it can help respond effectively to individualized cases of mental health.


The field of mental health ensures the behavioral, emotional, and cognitive well-being of citizens. Behaviorism, biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, and humanistic perspectives are fundamental theories that guide mental health care delivery. Although treatment approaches for mental health conditions and policies related to the latter have developed over the decades, mentally ill patients still face societal biases. Psychiatrists should apply the nursing process and critical thinking to ensure safe and appropriate interventions for mental health conditions.


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