Saturday, 10 March 2012

Groundwork - Needs. There are many ways of considering human needs. In nursing one successful way is the Model proposed by Maslow (1970)

AsteraceaeCalendula officinalis, Picture by Ian Brealey


In order to maintain their physical and mental health people have certain essential requirements or needs that must be met.  If an individual experiences a deficit in their needs they experience emotions and are usually motivated to take action towards the attainment of these needs. If all our needs are fulfilled we experience the highest emotion of all - human love, kindness and affection. 

Maslow depicted a pyramid starting with physiological needs and peaking in self actualisation.

Where a person has difficulty meeting their needs this may be experienced in various ways according to the need...for example nutrition and fluids for the person having difficulty in meeting their needs this may be experienced as hunger, thirst, discomfort, excessive intake, anorexia, physical diffulty, nausea, anxiety.

Persons with mental health problems may be unwilling, unable, not aware or have a distorted awareness of their physiological needs

Physiological needs

Specific requirements
Nutrition and fluids
Environmental stimulation
Physical activity

Safety and security needs

Specific requirements:
Feeling safe
Protection from harm
Predictability and order
Knowing what is going to happen
Trust and reliance on others
Being in control
Maintain identity
Acceptance and belonging
Esteem needs
Cognitive needs
Aesthetic needs
Self actualisation

Acceptance and belonging

Specific requirements:
Love and affection
Warm communicating relationships
Group companionship

Esteem needs

Specific requirements:
Positive self worth
Autnomy and control
Sense of mastery and competance
Recognition from others
Appreciation by others
Personal status

Cognitive needs

Specific requirements:
Self awareness and insight
Problem solving

Aesthetic needs

Specific requirements:
Personal expression
Recreational interests
Meaningful activity
Spiritual needs

Self actualisation needs

Specific requirements:
Drive for self improvement
Personal growth
Potential for change


1.  Maslow (1970)

2.  Ironbar and Hooper (1989) Chapter 1 The Practice of Mental Health Nursing, 1.1  Human needs and the role of the mental health nurse

The photograph above is of calendula.  The leaves are not edible but the yellow florets are and can be placed in salad or enjoyed as a tea. The marigold will keep flowering so there is no problem harvesting the flowers. Placed on a sunny kitchen shelf in a bottle of sunflower oil you get an excellent oil for the family's dry or problem skin patches. You can spot the family resemblance with the Sunflower. Other useful Asteraceae are the chamomiles.  

Personal note.  In 2007 I had the great pleasure of working with the New York agents of an autistic savant called Daniel Tammet.  Daniel has authored two best selling books.  His description of his experience of emotion, memory and learning in colour and feelings provides a fascinating insight into brain function and reality as experienced both by normal and autistic people.  Wikipedia

There is a great deal of interest in aromatherapy worldwide and British trained educators are in demand from the USA to China.  In the area of mental health there is great interest in complementary treatments particularly ones which improve cognition. 

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) provides guidelines for nurses wanting to use aromatherapy.  The guidelines for using aromatherapy issued by the RCN include the following:
Supervised practice
Anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology
Practical and theoretical examination
Holistic approach
Supervised clinical practice
Counselling, communication and self development skills training
Appropriately qualified teachers

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