Mighty Blog

Grace, RN, shares what it’s like to work in our inpatient mental health unit

May is Mental Health Awareness Month – a time to spotlight the importance of taking care of your mental health and reducing the stigma of mental health conditions.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re highlighting Grace, registered nurse on our inpatient mental health unit, to share more about her role, what Mental Health Awareness Month means to her and her favorite ways to take care of her mental health.

Get to know Grace!

Tell us about your role.

I’m a registered nurse on the inpatient mental health unit at our St. Paul hospital. I’ve worked at Children’s Minnesota ever since the mental health unit opened in November 2022.

Grace, RN

What inspired you to go into your field?

Mental health has always been a part of my life, whether it was related to a family member or myself. I was a super anxious child (I threw up every morning before preschool because I was so nervous) and I struggled with anxiety and depression throughout my teenage years.

When I had my first rotation on a mental health unit during my undergrad nursing program, I found I was able to relate to the clients I met. I also loved how there was an aspect of therapeutic relationship building and a sense of creativity involved in mental health care.

Though it isn’t always easy, I find the mental health field to be full of collaboration, meaning-making and hope. These factors initially inspired me to go into this field and continue to inspire me to work in this area and contribute to innovative and positive changes. By doing this, I hope that kids who were like me can learn helpful skills and connect with resources to live a healthier, more joyful life.

What does Mental Health Awareness Month mean to you?

Though mental health care and society’s perception of it has positively progressed in the last 50 years, there is still much room for improvement. This month provides an opportunity to share experiences, accomplishments, and areas of growth so that we, as a field and a community, can work to improve the way those with mental health struggles are treated and cared for.

Additionally, on a more personal level, I think it is a great way for people with mental health experiences to share their stories and provide opportunities for those currently struggling to not feel as alone.

Why do you think it’s important to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health?

Mental illness can be very isolating. Due to external or internal stigma, some people feel very ashamed by the thoughts and feelings they are having so they don’t reach out, making that isolating feeling worse. By raising awareness and reducing stigma, I think that it creates a safer space for people to come out and say, “Hey, I’m actually not doing okay,” and this enables that person to seek and get help. Raising awareness also helps to communicate that many, if not most people, have struggled with mental health concerns at some point in their life or know someone who has. When we think about it that, mental health doesn’t seem like this big, scary thing we shouldn’t talk about. It becomes something that we can all relate to.

What are your favorite ways to take care of your mental health?

To take care of my own mental health, one thing I like to do is take good care of my body. For me, this looks like eating nutritious food and snacks that make me happy, exercising and getting outside, and doing my skincare and hygiene routines. To take care of my mind, I do my best to balance work with doing things I enjoy, like spending time with friends and family and doing creative activities like crocheting. Finally, I’m a huge advocate of therapy. I think everyone could be in therapy and benefit from it. I go to therapy about once a month, and it helps me take care of my mental health and be more conscious of my emotions.

Work at Children’s Minnesota

We at Children’s Minnesota have been caring for kids for 100 years. That kind of devotion requires a powerhouse team, health care professionals with talent, experience and heart. If that sounds like you, we’d love to have you join us. Apply today: childrensmn.org/careers.

Mai Songsawatwong