Your web browser is outdated and may be insecure

The RCN recommends using an updated browser such as Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome

Mental health

Celebrating good practice in mental health

Mental health nurses every day, go above and beyond, seeking ways to work with patients and their families to promote understanding of mental illness and support recovery.

In addition to highlighting those who receive prestigious national awards, this space seeks to share good practice, innovation and highlight those providing outstanding care and transforming care provision. 

Celebrating good practice 

Tafara Inniss wins RCN Rising Star Award for Black History Month

Tafara identified that BAME bank and agency staff were not feeling as supported as they should be when they worked shifts on the unit. As a quality improvement project, Tafara has developed an induction pack for students and bank/agency staff in order for students/staff to get the most out of their time on the unit and be of support to the substantive team when on shifts. Tafara takes the time to teach and develop all staff, including bank/agency staff and students as she knows that this will greatly benefit staff morale, patient care and the future of the nursing profession in general. During one of our team business meetings, I facilitated a difficult discussion regarding concerns raised by BAME staff about their negative experiences whilst at work. Tafara was a key contributor to the discussion, encouraging others to share openly about their experiences and offering productive ways that we all as a team can move forward together and positively enhance the experience of BAME staff on the unit. Tafara is not shy to offer constructive criticism to the team, always meant as a supportive manner as she believes that each member of the team has value to add and can always strive to do better. She is a great role model, she is inclusive of others and routinely champions diversity and equality on the unit.

Geoff Brennan wins RCNi Mental Health Nursing Award 2020 

Geoff is committed to eliminating restraint and restrictive practices used on inpatients with mental ill health or learning disabilities throughout the UK and across the world. Championing Safewards model he inspires and encourages ways to minimise aggression and challenging behaviour while promoting safety and maintaining personal dignity for people who are in crisis on acute inpatient wards. Over the past 30 years he has created carers’ groups and benchmarks, delivered projects and research, undertaken inspections and chaired acute care forums. He is executive director for Star Wards, part of social justice charity Bright, providing practical ideas and sharing examples from and for mental health ward staff. Twitter @Safewards

Winner of the RCN awards 2021

João Marçal-Grilo - Jaya Mental Health

 Mental health nurse and founding director of Jaya Mental Health João Marçal-Grilo realised there was little support available for people with mental health problems in South Asia with few mental health professionals working in cities and rural areas being isolated and lacking support. He launched the charity Jaya Mental Health in 2014 to link communities of nurses across the world to ensure they have access to training and mutual support to improve mental healthcare in their communities. The initiative’s success has resulted in official requests for more mental health clinics in remote areas and Jaya Mental Health being asked to advise on mental health provision in areas of South Asia.

Finalist of the RCN Awards 2021

Dennis Singson - The Station Practice

Coming from a secondary care background and being familiar with crisis avoidance techniques, advanced nurse practitioner Dennis Singson has coordinated the development of a mental health hub consisting of a GP and a clinical pharmacist and upskilled colleagues throughout the practice to improve the care of people with anxiety, depression and eating disorders, despite starting his role at the start of the pandemic. He has weekly contact with at least 55 patients. Since he joined the practice, anti-depressant prescribing has reduced and referral to secondary services is down by 30%. Patients praise the improved, faster access to specialist services and the support they receive through their mental health journey.

Home treatment crisis response team - Southern Health and Social Care Trust

The home treatment crisis response team at Southern Health and Social Care Trust created a 24-hour centralised mental health emergency assessment unit to safely manage the immediate and short-term needs of people experiencing a period of acute mental distress through referrals from primary care, emergency departments, ambulance and police within one to two hours. This reduced the pressure on acute hospitals and minimised the risk of the spread of coronavirus in hospital during the pandemic. The team minimised disruption to services through the first two waves of the pandemic and reduced the time patients spent in crowded hospital areas and provided a dignified, comfortable and safe space for all the assessments. Unnecessary attendance at emergency departments was reduced using pathways with ambulance and police services.

Nicky Lambert, Vanessa Garrity and David Munday - #mhTV

During the pandemic and in their own time, the #mhTV team created an online television and podcast series to support colleagues, celebrate nursing and discuss mental health issues. They began by livestreaming their conversations about COVID-19 on Facebook and covered moral injury, bereavement, loss and social inequality. They live tweet the conversations and make them and the podcast available on open access forums. They recruit and support guests, plan conversations and take turns in presenting and doing the publicity and admin with over 20,000 people engaging across all platforms so far.  The team also hosted the mental health nursing research conference enabling it to go ahead free of charge and expanding its reach to be seen by more than 2,000 people compared to its usual 200 attendees.

Staff COVID support – mental health resilience hub - Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

 This impressive and comprehensive nurse-led support service for health, social care and support staff was mobilised in five weeks over Christmas 2020, including setting up new recording systems and datasets, recruiting and engaging staff who were reluctant to seek help and ensuring a proactive approach to mental health support. In May, 120 staff had been referred, triaged, assessed and had or were having trauma-focused therapy. Many presented with trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, complex grief reactions, trauma related to assaults at work or witnessing self-harm or serious incidents. Average referral to assessment time is 1-2 days and assessment to therapy is 1-2 weeks. All the participants who were surveyed found the service to be compassionate, effective and confidential, and they said they would recommend it to a colleague.

The Skellern Lecture

The Skellern Lecture is a prestige annual event which celebrates advances in the field of Mental Health & Mental Health Nursing. The JPMHN Life Time Achievement Award recognises a sustained contribution to the field of mental health. Award winners are announced at the RCN MHNAUK international research conference. This event includes the 2020 Skellern Lecturer: Dr Russell Ashmore and the 2020 JPMHN Lifetime Achievement Award: Professor Eimear Muir-Cochrane. View event details.

Rachel Luby wins RCNi Mental Health Nursing Award 2019

Clinical practice lead Rachel Luby is on a mission to transform sexual health and expression and approaches to intimacy in her forensic mental health unit. She believed existing practice failed to recognise that patients are sexual beings who should not have to give up healthy sexual expression while in hospital, which could make initiating new relationships after they leave hospital more difficult. She has driven policy and guideline changes, and a sexual health nurse has attended the ward to offer screening, advice and treatment. Plans include a weekly group on love, sex and intimacy and a sexual expression care plan for each patient. Rachel Luby's blog reflects on living with mental illness and working in mental health. See: The how to and not to guide of mental health care... a reflection.

South West London BAME Nurse Development Team 2019

This team created a customised leadership and professional development programme for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) mental health nurses. A wide range of initiatives aimed at harnessing their talent included focus groups with BAME staff, service users and carers, and support for line managers and senior staff to give feedback and coach BAME nurses. The programme also helped improve the diversity of interview panels and offered participants secondment and development opportunities. Of the 37 band 3 to 7 participants recruited to the programme, 38% were promoted or developed their careers subsequently, while 100% of those who applied for a job were shortlisted. You can read more about the programme and its ethos in this Guardian article.

Brookside young people’s mental health team win prestigious Mental Health Practice Award 2019

This team transformed the mental healthcare of children and young people, turning services from inadequate to outstanding in 18 months. When the Brookside Adolescent Inpatient Unit was closed for modernisation, the team decided to treat patients at home. It now offers 24-hour crisis provision, increasing scope for positive risk-taking and treating young people in the least restrictive environment. The home treatment team is keeping young people with emotional dysregulation and self-harm out of hospital. In one year it prevented 244 admissions. Inpatient length of stay has been significantly reduced to an average of 25 days. Restraint incidents have fallen dramatically. See: Brookside wins RCNi Award for Mental Health Practice Award.

Celebrating events

Improving Ghanaian mental health care

This exciting project has been initiated by mental health nurses who are keen to improve mental health care in Ghana.  On 10 July 2018 over 50 people met for a conference and workshop at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in London. This was a gathering of minds and expertise with nurses, doctors, occupational therapists and others – all wanting to do their part to improve mental health care in Ghana. Find out more about the Ghana UK Mental Health Alliance 2018.

Student theatre mental health

Finding balance

Finding Balance is a collaborative ‘digital interactive theatre’ (DIT) project designed and delivered as a public health/public engagement activity to raise awareness of mental health about ‘low level stress and anxiety’. View the case study.

Page last updated - 03/04/2022