Use of Ethical Principles to Combat Stigma in Psychiatric Nursing

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Stigma greatly affects people with mental illness. A large portion of the population fears and socially rejects people with mental illness. Unfortunately, this includes nurses and mental health care professionals (Sobstyl, week 6). Also, stigma is a hindrance for the mentally ill that are in the preliminary stage of the illness to seek for help (Sobstyl, week 6). Often, they seek out professional help when their mental illness already reached a more serious stage. Having said that, psychiatric nurses play a fundamental role in helping patients with mental illness combat stigma. In order to achieve this, psychiatric nurses needs to be equipped with ethical theories like deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, and ethics of care as this will ultimately serve as their grounds for truth (Yeo, 49). This essay will discuss why deontology is the best ethical approach in psychiatric nursing to combat stigma surrounding mental illness. In addition, this essay will point out visible contributions and weaknesses of the other mentioned ethical theories and show examples of their practical application. Deontology is a philosophical theory based on a universal moral duty. I found this theory as the best approach in psychiatric nursing to combat stigma in mental illness. The first and most important reason why I chose this theory is because deontology treats everyone equally and protects people’s rights (Sobstyl,week 3). Having mentioned that, deontological reasoning will always refer to the mentally ill as persons regardless of their physical or mental state. This is very important because people suffering from mental illness are vulnerable minorities which are to be protected, and treated equally. Deontology is often compared to the golden rule (Gibson, 2004). In other words before I can label a person with mental illness as a societal burden, I need to ask myself. What if I am the one with the mental illness, would I want people to label me as burden? The answer is no. This kind of deontological reasoning protects the rights of people with mental illness, and psychiatric nurses are advocate to patients’ rights (Gibson, 2006) The second reason why I think deontology is the best approach to combat stigma surrounding mental illness is its strictness. In essence, it strictly promotes human dignity (Sobstyl, week 3). It doesn’t allow for the public and the mental health care providers to take advantage of the weaknesses of people with mental illness. Deontology states that we treat the mentally ill as ends in themselves (Gibson, 2004) In other words, treat them as we would treat ourselves and not thinking about the advantages this would give us. The final reason-with no lesser value from the first two-is that deontology supports autonomy. Deontological approach states that every adult person has the right to decide for his own life and no one else (Yeo, 51). Autonomy is important for people with mental illness as it eliminates their own personal stigmas towards themselves. Autonomy gives a person liberty and self-determination (J.S Mill-Concepts, 143). One example would be a psychiatric nurse not bothering to ask a patient’s stand about a procedure that would normally require the patient’s authority. He or she may do this for personal benefits like making his/her job easier. Having mentioned of its strict moral laws, deontology would not condone this behavior. The second approach that I will choose in psychiatric nursing to combat stigma surrounding mental illness is virtue ethics. Since virtue ethics is based on acquiring good character traits and making them as habits (Sobstyl, Week 5, part1), it makes this theory the most genuine tool to care for others. Virtuous nurses have the greatest positive effects on the lives of patients with mental illness (Virtue thread, 01-31-13). People with mental illness tend to be warmer to nurses who have good character traits (Virtue thread,0 2-05-13). This type of relationship combats stigma...
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