Mnemonics in Psychiatric Mental Health Care-Nursing Paper Examples

Introduction (Mnemonics in Psychiatric)

 A healthcare provider’s capacity to assess the mental health needs of their patients ranks as one of the most critical competencies in mental health nursing and psychiatric practice. Huggins et al. (2019) note that, unlike the medical model, a psychiatric and mental health nursing assessment constitutes the first recovery stage (Mnemonics in Psychiatric).

However, in modern times, many health problems sometimes make the psychiatric mental health nurse find it difficult to memorize everything one has to keep in mind for this subspecialty. To help the psychiatric nurse, there is a need for mnemonics and other tricks that one should know. Consequently, this essay examines some of the mnemonics in psychiatric mental health care and summarizes how the psychiatric nurse would utilize them in practice.

Mnemonics in Psychiatric Health Care and How the Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Would utilize them in practice

According to Kadiyala et al. (2020), psychiatrists like clinicians may use mnemonics as diagnostic criteria narratives or anecdotes. Mnemonics describe specific devices for improving memory by using cognitive curing processes to organize, elaborate, and form mental imagery at the time of learning and recall. Depending on one’s liking, the psychiatrist nurse could use an acrostic sentence where the first letter of each word is one of the items the provider should remember (Mnemonics in Psychiatric).

Mnemonics in Psychiatric Health Care
Mnemonics in Psychiatric Health Care

A typical example is HE’S 2 SAD for diagnosing the affective disorder of Dysthymia. This acrostic sentence stands for hopelessness, energy loss or fatigue, low self-esteem, two years at the minimum of a depressed mood, sleep decreased or increased, appetite decreased or increased, and impaired decision-making or concentration. Caplan et al., (n.d). The provider remembers that a depressed person usually is too sad.

Another common mnemonic strategy is using an acronym herein, meaning a word created using the first letter of the word of the information one is expected to recall. A fitting example in the acronym is TRAUMA or DREAMS as the first letter of the symptoms used to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder. TRAUMA translates to a traumatic event, re-experience, avoidance, inability to function, a month or more of symptoms, and arousal increased (Mnemonics in Psychiatric).

For DREAMS, disinterest in usual activities, re-experience, an event preceding symptom, avoidance, a month or more of symptoms, and sympathetic arousal. In both acronyms, one stays reminded that the psychiatric issues stem from a traumatic experience the client once experienced. The limited scope of this essay means only three of the mnemonics remains highlighted, but over 30 of them exist. These mnemonics are also in the form of keywords, peg words, rhymes or wordplay, and loci methods.

Besides the 32 mnemonics that Caplan et al. (n.d) have highlighted, I have also used other mnemonics like WILD PEWTERR to help establish an easy conversation during an interview for a patient suspected as a candidate for DSM-IV criteria for alcohol and other substance abuse(Bernstein et al., 2020). WILD reminds the psychiatric nurse of the out-of-control nature of the substance abuse, while PEWTER represents the traditional drinking cup. At the same time, the extended r emphasizes that it lasts a long time (Mnemonics in Psychiatric).

This mnemonic works best where the CAGE questionnaire points to more information is helpful. Consequently, these are work (or function at home, job, or school) interpersonal, legal, dangerous (operating or driving machines) problems (of continued use), exceeds, withdrawal, tolerance, efforts (to moderate use) resources, and restriction of social and occupational domains of the client’s life (Mnemonics in Psychiatric).

In my clinical practice, I have also found that using the same letter abbreviations like Triple S or (S-S-S) for SSRI’s adverse effects to mean stomach upset, sexual dysfunction and serotonin syndrome helps in the recall. Similarly, 3R’s remind me of the psych behavior role of a nurse of recognition (of memory-mood, appearance, speech, and thought perception), relationship (concreteness, empathy, respect, genuineness), and resources or referral (community agencies, hospitals, doctors, and churches) (Mnemonics in Psychiatric).

In conclusion, the psychiatrist should remember that many mnemonic sources are to be used for diagnostic criteria. One can also modify the original mnemonic to cater to the changed criteria of some disorders in DSM V. The mnemonics are not supposed to substitute the 

 DSM V classification should be used in conjunction with this classification (Mnemonics in Psychiatric).


Bernstein, E. E., Brühl, A., Kley, H., Heinrichs, N., & McNally, R. J. (2020). Mnemonic discrimination in treatment-seeking adults with and without PTSD. Behavior research and therapy131, 103650.

Caplan, J. P., MD., & Stern, T. A., MD. (n.d.). Mnemonics in a nutshell: 32 aids to psychiatric diagnosis (Links to an external site.).  Current Psychiatry, 7(10), 27-33.

Huggins, R., Mansel, B., & Tait, S. (2019). Role-play simulation in nurse education: applying the ‘I AM A STAR’mnemonic. Mental Health Practice22(4).

Kadiyala, P. K. (2020). Mnemonics for diagnostic criteria of DSM V mental disorders: a scoping review. General psychiatry33(3).

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