National Psychiatric Technician Appreciation Day, or Psychiatric Technicians’ Day, occurs every year on the Wednesday that falls in the first full week of August. This year, it takes place on August 7. Ever stopped to think about the people behind the scenes who dedicate their lives to caring for mentally challenged or ill people? In short, a psychiatric technician is really just a person who is dedicated to caring for people with any kind of mental illness or developmental disability. So allow us to give you a glimpse into the realities of life as a psychiatric technician, so these caregivers can receive the appreciation they deserve.
History of National Psychiatric Technician Appreciation Day
While the origins of National Psychiatric Technician Appreciation Day are not known to us, we can take a stab at it and guess that perhaps an organization like the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians (A.A.P.T.) may have had something to do with it.
The history of psychiatric technicians is tied in closely with the history of the institutionalization of people deemed mentally ill. The first asylums were commonly known by many insensitive names and served as a means to socially exclude those who were “unfit” for society. As early as 872 A.D., British travelers in the Far East recorded observations in the Islamic world of mentally ill people being treated humanely, but it took centuries before this approach became popular in Europe and North America.
Throughout the 1500s, all the way to the 1700s, the mentally ill of society were treated rather barbarously in most hospitals and asylums. It was only during the early 1800s that hospitals began to view mental illness as a medical problem and shifted their perspective to emphasize the dignity of life of mentally ill patients. By the 1940s, many treatments focussed on rehabilitating the mentally ill to make them fit for life outside of any institution, and many different therapeutic programs for integration were developed. As time progressed, the aim became to destigmatize mental illness and deinstitutionalize patients so that they would not feel detached from the rest of society. This introduced the need for training a variety of other mental-health professionals for the different kinds of treatments, which is how psychiatric technicians came into being.
Psychiatric technicians are basically mental-health technicians who work with and care for people suffering from the whole gamut of mental health issues — from neurological illnesses and diseases to psychological disorders and developmental disabilities. These oft-unnoticed, and unsung, heroes deal with a lot of different tasks related to caregiving and assessment. Their jobs can range from monitoring the physical and emotional well-being of patients to assisting them with their daily routines and monitoring their medication and personal hygiene. They are usually employed in public or private hospitals and other care facilities where treatment and rehabilitation programs exist for those suffering from serious mental health conditions.
National Psychiatric Technician Appreciation Day timeline
Ahmad Ibn Tulun builds a hospital in Cairo to care for the mentally ill, including using music therapy as treatment.
The most famous one is the Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem (you may know it as the infamous Bedlam Hospital), London.
The barbaric nature of treatments for those suffering from mental illnesses leads to a call for change on humanitarian grounds.
Recognizing the dignity of life with respect to the mentally ill, hospitals are re-designed and built to cater especially to the needs of such patients.
Treatments for the mentally ill become more therapeutic, and the decentralization of mental hospitals means that the need for professional caregivers increases.
National Psychiatric Technician Appreciation Day FAQs
Is a psychiatric technician a nurse?
Psychiatric technicians and aides care for patients with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities, and work with patients experiencing mental-health challenges. They typically work under the supervision of a licensed doctor or registered nurse or counselor.
Is it difficult to be a psychiatric technician?
The education required for this career is minimal, and one is usually on the front lines of psychiatric patient care. Most psychiatric technicians will tell you their job is challenging yet rewarding because it is very service-oriented.
How do I become a psychiatric technician?
Aspiring psych-techs need a certificate or an associate’s degree in psychiatric or mental health technology and some employers prefer candidates with prior experience. Licensure is required in some states and optional certification is available. Certification in C.P.R. is also required.
How to Observe National Psychiatric Technician Appreciation Day
Research ‘A day in the life of…’
In the spirit of true empathy, try putting yourself in the shoes of a psychiatric technician by immersing yourself in their world. This can be through watching videos or reading up on a day in the life of a psych-tech, or you could take it a step further by shadowing a psychiatric technician for a day. Either way, we urge you to educate yourself on what it’s like to be a super caregiver.
Make a gesture
It doesn’t have to be grand, but any token of appreciation can mean a lot to someone else. Take this opportunity to give a gift to any psychiatric technician you may (or may not) know, just like a secret angel! Volunteering at your local mental healthcare center or hospital can also be a way to show some solidarity and appreciation.
Talk about mental health
While mental health dialogue and discourse are definitely on the up and up, let’s continue to spread awareness about the need for people to be mindful of their own mental health. It would ease much of the burden from psychiatric technicians and other mental healthcare workers if more of us take ownership of mental well-being.
5 Qualities That Make For A Good Psychiatric Technician
This goes without saying in any and all service-providing jobs, of course, but psychiatric technicians do need an extra-large dose of this quality; given the challenges they face daily.
Working closely with people and being a caregiver requires a person with great communication and relational skills.
A sharp eye and keen sense of awareness will definitely come in handy, as mentally ill people are the most unpredictable.
That virtue which is much-touted, yet so hard to maintain, especially when the people one has to care for can be challenging or even violent.
Most psych-techs spend their days on their feet, so looking after their own physical health is a must. And a good pair of sneakers wouldn’t hurt either!
Why National Psychiatric Technician Appreciation Day is Important
We love it when there’s an official day to celebrate people who may otherwise go unnoticed. So a day of appreciation for all the work that psychiatric technicians do, and the drive that keeps them going, is just what the doctor ordered.
By being better informed about psychiatric technicians and what their jobs entail, one can spread awareness of the issues relating to mental healthcare which may still prevail in certain societies — issues such as the stigma attached to mental illness, and the misconceptions that people may hold about the role and approach of mental-health caregivers.
Learning more about the lives of psychiatric technicians can help inform people about this field as a potential career path, and may even inspire others to choose it. It highlights an area of need and is a great way of honoring those already serving in this capacity.
National Psychiatric Technician Appreciation Day dates