Temple nursing students are getting a chance to hear first hand what its like living with a mental illness.
A new program at Temple’s College of Public Health gives students the chance to hear what its like to have Schizophrenia. The mental health simulation uses MP3 players to immerse students in hallucinations Schizophrenic patients might hear.
Assistant professor Barbara Stephens is teaching a class this semester that took part in the program. She explains the simulation as “a program of hearing voices. It’s voices that are sometimes happy and kind voices, many times derogatory, mean, command voices telling you what to do.”
The simulation is meant to increase empathy for patients with mental illnesses and prepare them for their next rotations in a psychiatric hospital. Professor Stephens says “They’ll have a better understanding of what its like to hear voices or to have those voices in your head distracting you.”
Junior Maila Turat took part in the simulation, saying, “I was supposed to complete a word search which was particularly hard to do because I’m trying to think of words in my head and people are yelling and shouting at me.”
Other tasks the students had to perform during the simulation included filling out a job application, filling prescriptions, completing a math exam, and cutting out shapes.
Many students found the simulation emotionally exhausting, but said it would help them relate to patients in the field.
Turay says, “I think it will just help me understand that some behaviors are just irrational. Theres something going on that I’m just not able to understand so I can give someone the benefit of the doubt and just not automatically judge them.”
Although this is only the first semester the program is taking place, students and professors are saying it is already a success and hope to expand the program in the future to include more interactions during the simulation.