Lancelot Morgan, RN (B.Sc.N)
Mental Health and Addictions Nurse
I feel lucky that I’ve always known what I wanted to do. Not only that I wanted to work in mental health, but specifically that I’ve wanted to work with children. A lot of different life events drew me into health care. In particular, my sister battled cancer and passed away in 2012. She was a real inspiration and showed such strength, especially in how she prepared her kids.
We’re a close-knit family, and that support was vital to pull us through a family tragedy. I came to realize that others don’t have that level of support, which can take a huge emotional toll.
My team works with children and adolescents who have mental health and addiction related struggles. We work with students, usually under 21 and enrolled in school, to provide mental health assessments, medication monitoring, connections with psychiatry, and other systems navigation. We’re often involved when someone is discharged from an inpatient mental health unit and needs support integrating back to school and community. A school’s social worker may also refer to us when there is a mental health concern. We also get referrals from community psychiatrists or pediatricians who can identify specific objectives for us to help in the student’s care. Our job is to educate and empower youth to care for their mental health.
I love dealing with people. It’s humbling to know how the little things can make a huge difference to someone – even a short conversation can be enough to lift someone up and help them get through their day.
I remember one patient, although we only had a brief conversation in the crisis unit, she remembered it. When we met again, she told me that conversation gave her hope to carry on. All I said to her was “Don’t worry, you can make it to the end of your admission if you follow through with the interventions.” It was enough to encourage her. You just never know how your words will help someone find what they need.
The people we serve really stay with us, like the young man I worked with who loved basketball. He was battling depression and was withdrawn from the activities he used to enjoy, especially spending time outside. It was the start of grade 9 for him, and basketball tryouts were fast approaching. I bought him a basketball to see if it would help motivate him to get outside and try something he once loved. He was ecstatic. He started dribbling right away. From then on he was more hopeful and started being active and playing regularly outside. He got involved in the tryouts. He used it to push back on his depression, and he was eventually released from care.
You remember those experiences. It keeps you going. If these teens and youth are able to battle their chronic illness or detrimental experience and push through it, so can I.
Nursing is more than a science. It’s an art. Showing compassion in every situation is ingrained in us. We live the idea of putting patients first by remembering to be reflective in our practice, take a step back, and always keep the focus on the patient. It really is about “being human first.”
As a male nurse, I’ve encountered parents who are hesitant and might prefer a female nurse to work with their daughters. I understand where that’s coming from, and it’s helped me to be sensitive to their needs and aware in how I approach new patients by asking questions and giving information from the beginning that might reduce any discomfort.
I’m so fortunate to work with a tremendously talented team. Their hard work, dedication, and exceptional skill inspire me. It helps me get through difficult and draining situations when I can see the difference we’re making in the lives of children and adolescents in our community.