this article contains an essay on general hospital psychiatric wards. authors describe the experiences regarding the implementation of psychiatric wards, pointing out questions about the tolerance with psychiatric patients at a general hospital and the performance of the nursing staff. authors read some works, articles, theses and dissertations produced in brazil in the last ten years. the analysis of these experiences was based on the psychiatric reform, "paradigmatic transition" concepts, the psychosocial field of awareness and reflections on the role of a nurse. authors believe that these initiatives are directed to create a space of inclusion of the psychiatric patient in the society, generating proposals to change mental health nursing, through the construction of ethical, professional, therapeutic, flexible practices committed with the care.