Nurses do a poor job of spotting mental illness

By Staff Writer

Individuals who struggle with depression may be better off seeking therapy from a treatment center rather than looking for help from their physician or at a hospital.

A recent study from researchers at the University of Leicester found that clinical care nurses generally do a poor job of diagnosing mental illnesses, especially depression.

In his review of more than 7,000 nurses working in hospitals, nursing homes and doctor offices, Alex Mitchell and his team found that very few correctly diagnose mental illness. Nurses who work in nursing homes and hospitals identified only 40 percent of patients with mental illness. Nurses employed by primary care physicians correctly diagnosed just 25 percent.

“In terms of dealing with distress and depression, nursing staff are probably the most important group of health professionals,” Mitchell said. “However their ability to do this is increasingly under pressure from high workloads and little funding for professional development.”

He added that more training programs may be needed to help improve the ability of nurses to spot mental illnesses like depression.