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Connecting with Children as a Mental Health Nurse

This story was selected as a winner during our 2018 summer story contest. It was submitted by Farrah Hendrix, Registered Nurse at Camber Children’s Mental Health.

I have been with Camber Children’s Mental Health for five years now. I chose to work for Camber because I always wanted to work with children. After gaining mental health experience during nursing school, I developed a passion for this field of work. When a youth is admitted to our hospital, they are in a psychiatric crisis and experiencing unimaginable pain. I find it so motivating as a mental health nurse to be a light to these children and teens to help them overcome the darkness they’re experiencing. It’s very inspiring when we help a child heal and give them hope for their future.

Listening and Engaging

As a mental health nurse, my job is not only to treat the youth medically, but I also take the time to talk with them and listen. It is so important to show them that their voice matters and to make them feel heard and understood. These conversations don’t always have to be about the childhood trauma they have experienced or why they are in pain. There are countless ways that communication with a child can be therapeutic and help them without talking directly about their struggles.

For example, we had a pair of siblings admitted to the hospital and bedtime was very difficult for them because of the trauma they had experienced. At night, I would often sit in their room and read to them stories or listen to songs to help them fall asleep.

I worked with another child at Camber who loved the atlas and studying geography. He would get very excited to tell me about all the different counties surrounding Hays, Kansas. This little boy also enjoyed looking at pictures of my pets. He always remembered their names and often asked me about them and how they were. It meant so much to him that someone cared that he liked geography and encouraged him to share that interest. Getting to know my pets also gave him a sense of comfort.

Everyone Deserves Kindness and Love

I always take the time to connect with the youth we are serving. I believe that me being kind to these kids while they’re in our hospital can make a huge difference for them. They just want someone to be kind and show interest in them, and we give them that at Camber. It also means so much to me to see their smiles and be part of their day.

Many of the younger kids in our hospital crave someone to spend time with them, even if it’s just sitting with them while they watch a movie. They just want to feel love and connection. It makes my heart feel good when the youth want to hang out with you and be around you. It’s amazing to give them that nurturing comfort. I never want to be a mental health nurse anywhere else!