A trained individual who attends to the nonmedical needs of psychiatric patientsThe attendant, or psychiatric aide, is generally in more direct and continuous contact with the mental patient than any other member of the psychiatricteam. His function is a twofold one. First, he provides physical care to the small number of patients who need it —dressing, bathing and feeding—and performs other practical duties, such as looking after linens and keeping the premises in order. Second, he gives the patients companionship and understanding, helping to calm them if they become overwrought and to encourage them if they become depressed. In contrast to the practice of a few years ago, the attendant of today is not chosen for his strong arm but for his warm heart and his ability to make the patients comfortable when they need a helping hand.The psychiatric aide, then, plays a crucial part in the “therapeutic community” of our time. He usually works in a mental hospital or psychiatric department of a general hospital under the direct supervision of a professional nurse or other mental health worker. As a result of his close contact with the patients, he can often contribute information of great value to the psychiatrist and other staff members in their efforts to understand the patients’ needs and plan their therapeutic programs.A high school diploma is desirable but not usually required for this occupation. However, special training is needed, either of the in-service or on- the-job variety. Many aides attend formal classes lasting from one week to three months, and some states have recently established experimental training schools associated with junior or community colleges. Sex, age, marital, race, and religious barriers are practically nonexistent. The major requirements are an interest in people, a sense of responsibility, ability to handle emergencies, good physical condition, and an understanding attitude toward people who may be irritable or disagreeable as a result of illness.