Managing Depression
by Brad Hagen
What are the most essential skills and techniques for working with severely depressed patients? Find out what to do—and what not to do—in this two-part demonstration of a mental health practitioner interviewing a suicidally depressed hospital patient.
Watching someone endure symptoms of major depression, particularly suicidality, can be extremely difficult to bear, and our own strong reactions can impede treatment. Empathy, assertiveness, and hope are necessary to effectively support someone in the grips of depression, but how do we strike the right balance when faced with such overwhelming despair?

With the helping professional in mind, we witness two scenarios that contrast novice and proficient work with a depressed woman recovering from a recent suicide attempt. In this informative video, you’ll see the difference between common errors that can derail a session, and the small, sometimes understated actions that lead to positive outcomes.

Claire is a suicide survivor who laments her relationship with her husband and children, convinced that she’s not the wife or mother she should be and that her family would be better off without her. In the first scenario, you’ll watch Pat, her psychiatric nurse, attempt unsuccessfully to engage or soothe her. With the patient immersed in guilt and despair, Pat is visibly nervous, reticent, and lacks the capacity to build rapport with the patient, leading to an awkward, unhelpful exchange. In contrast, the second vignette features a much more skillful, confident Pat gain Claire’s trust by making easy eye contact, using assertive communication, and empathizing with Claire’s plight while reframing her pain as conviction—a desire to be there for her family. Pat demonstrates techniques such as scaling questions, reflection statements, and simple psychoeducation, expressed with a warmth that helps Claire feel cared for and brings a sense of hope to her predicament.

This video offers valuable instruction on the subtle yet meaningful differences that distinguish new practitioners from more experienced and effective practitioners. If you’re looking to enhance your own skill set, or teach students to do so, this video is a must-see.

In Depth
The skills it takes to support depressed patients, particularly suicidal ones, don’t always come easily to us, even those of us called to the helping professions. This informative video helps demystify the techniques— as well as the attitude—necessary to bring about positive outcomes. In two consecutive, contrasting scenarios with the same patient/nurse combination, you’ll see how differences in rapport, tone of voice, empathy level, eye contact, and psychoeducational style can lead to marked differences in the therapeutic relationship and in clinical results.

Although these videos are designed for mental health and psychiatric nurses, the skills demonstrated apply for any mental health care worker dealing with patients with these psychiatric conditions. If you’re a therapist, counselor, psychiatric nurse, or other helping professional working with depressed or suicidal patients, you’ll find valuable takeaways to enhance your skills. Be sure to add this compelling video to your library today.
By watching this video, you will:
  • Understand the challenges of being with patients suffering from major depression and suicidality.
  • Learn how novice interventions can undermine a supportive relationship and clinical outcomes.
  • Identify proficient skills and interventions that support clinical needs and a patient’s sense of hope.

Length of video: 00:22:50

English subtitles available

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-441-X

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-441-3

Brad Hagen, PhD, RN, is a registered nurse, a registered psychologist, and an associate professor in the faculty of health sciences, at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, where he teaches in the nursing and addictions counseling programs. Hagen's main research and teaching interests include the broad areas of mental health, gerontology, long-term care, psychotropic drug use, and how to bring critical social theory and/or feminist approaches to these topics.

See all Brad Hagen videos.
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