Johnston-Devin, C and Mulvogue, J and Kornhaber, R and McLean, L and Cleary, M, Pain and mental health, Issues in Mental Health Nursing pp. 1-5. ISSN 0161-2840 (2022) [Contribution to Refereed Journal]
Pain hurts. Chronic pain hurts for longer than three months and in some cases, is long term (Nicholas et al., 2019). Globally, it is the main cause of disease burden, disability and suffering and is one of the most common reasons for seeking healthcare (Mills et al., 2019; Treede et al., 2019). Because pain is subjective, people in pain are sometimes not believed, particularly when they have a condition such as low back pain, repetitive strain injury or fibromyalgia for which there is no overt pathology to explain their pain and disability (Newton et al., 2013; Quintner, 2020). Disbelief is known to contribute to people feeling stigmatised and disempowered, which leads to isolation, rejection, shame and guilt, potentially affecting the self-identity of the person living with chronic pain (Newton et al., 2013; Quintner, 2020). Such emotional distress is known to lead to the patient experiencing depression and anxiety (Newton et al., 2013). Pain too, may be exacerbated or experienced comorbidly with mental illness, and there is a close relationship between post-traumatic stress and pain (Linnemørken et al., 2020; Moeller-Bertram et al., 2012). The relationship between health professional and patient cannot be underestimated. Trust, rapport and working in a therapeutic partnership is of utmost importance. Therefore, an increased understanding of these issues by nurses and other health professionals can play an important part in helping people at any stage of their chronic pain experience.