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Mental health

Mental Health nursing careers

What makes people want to be a Mental Health Nurse? 

Mental Health Nurse and Professor of Nursing Studies Annie Altschul (1919-2001) noted psychiatric nurses recruit themselves, and that people who take to the profession are different from those who want to be general nurses. They are proud of their profession, believing it to be a meaningful role with humanitarian purpose.

Today’s Student and Registered Mental Health Nurses when asked for a proposed large scale ‘Mental Health Careers’ recruitment campaign would concur:

  • They want to work in this field because family, friends and relatives do. They have experienced their own, their friends or families’ mental health problems. They have a passion to help people battle social injustice, address inequality and are attracted to wanting to help others through their darkest moments. The starting point of wanting to be part of addressing systemic injustice is a reason many Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority people state for selecting a career in mental health.
  • People coming into the profession want to be hands on, Mental Health Nurses are not restricted to sessions or formal appointments – they are seeking to hold the hope, to influence recovery wherever the person, their family and social networks are.
  • It’s what people get out of it – “As a MHN working with people with mental illness I get something back – a validation that I have achieved something – humanity – you get back more than you give out”.

There are a variety of arenas to learn and work in:

  • Child and Adolescence, Schools, Forensic, Deaf, In patient, Community, Mother and Baby, Perinatal, Primary Care, Older Age, Emergency Departments, Academia and Research. It’s a diverse workforce with a flattened hierarchy where contribution and input is valued with a strong sense of team working and camaraderie.

Once qualified you can specialise in:

  • Working with those with psychosis, eating disorders, personality disorders, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, drugs and alcohol, post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health act, safe guarding, psychopharmacology.

Mental Health Nurse interventions are tailor made to suit individuals and their families. They include counselling, motivational interviewing, trauma based care, cognitive behaviour therapy, physical health activities, behavioural activation, dialectical behaviour therapy and psychosocial interventions as outlined in NICE Guidance.

 Cath Gamble #MHnursingFuture

You can follow the conversation about mental health nursing careers at #MHnursingfuture on Twitter.

Sources used:

  • Focus groups conducted with MHN (UK Expert RCN Reps, MHN Forums), RCN forum committee, members and the UK wide MHN Expert Advisory group
  • Intelligence gathered through feedback from 1st MHN day – 21st February 2019, as part of social media twitter 2018 #MHnursingfuture campaign and Student Nurse project
  • Here’s an example of mental health nurses in practice: Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust - Nursing careers. There is also a video on their YouTube channel here.

Page last updated - 16/09/2019