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Mental Health Nursing

Mental Health Nursing refers to the care of people of all ages experiencing mental illness or psychological distress. Conditions include mood and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, psychosis and self-harm. Use this guide to find information resources about mental health including books, reports and journal articles.

Last updated: 09/06/2022

RCN Publications

Report cover Royal College of Nursing (2019) Parity of esteem: delivering physical health equality for those with serious mental health needs. London. RCN.
Publication Cover Royal College of Nursing (2018) Parity of esteem: Report of the spring 2018 RCN survey of mental health professionals. London: RCN.
Mental health in children and young people: an RCN toolkit for nurses who are not mental health specialists. Royal College of Nursing (2014) Mental health in children and young people: an RCN toolkit for nurses who are not mental health specialists. London: RCN.

Reviews and reports

Please check that resources are applicable for your country.

The Cochrane Library contains high quality independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making. This includes the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
  • Systematic reviews from the Cochrane Library. Topics include mental health.
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  • An example of a Cochrane Library search
    View example search
Department of Health and Social Care (2018) The Women’s mental health taskforce final report. London: DHSC.
Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (2007) Bamford review of mental health and learning disability. Belfast: DH.
Health Education England (2017) Stepping forward to 2020/21: The mental health workforce plan for England. London: HEE.
National Institute for Health Research (2017) Advancing care: research with care homes. London: NIHR.
National Institute for Health Research (2108) Forward thinking: NIHR research on support for people with severe mental illness. London: NIHR.

Other resources and guidance

Please check that resources are applicable for your country.

NHS Education for Scotland: Mental health, learning disabilities and dementia (NMAHP) resources.
Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (2019) 'SIGN mental health guidelines (2006-2019)'. Edinburgh: SIGN.
  • Guidelines 157, 145 and 131 cover mental health and behavioural conditions.
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Books on Prescription
  • A reading list of expert endorsed books about mental health, providing 13 to 18 year olds with advice and information about issues like anxiety, stress and OCD, and difficult experiences like bullying and exams. The books have all been recommended by young people and health professionals, and are available to borrow for free from public libraries.
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Legislation and statutory guidance

Please check that resources are applicable for your country.

Department of Health and Social Care (2021) Reforming the Mental Health Act: consultation outcome.
Department of Health and Social Care (2015) Code of practice: Mental Health Act 1983. Norwich: HMSO.
Parliament (1983) Mental Health Act 1983. London: HMSO.
Parliament (2005) Mental Capacity Act 2005. London: HMSO.
Parliament (2018) Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018. c. 27. London: HMSO.
Department of Health and Social Services (Northern Ireland) (1986) The Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order. Belfast: HMSO.
Scottish Executive (2003) Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act. Edinburgh: HMSO.
Welsh Government (2016) Mental Health Act 1983: code of practice. Cardiff: Llywodraeth Cymru.

National strategies

NHS England (2019) The NHS long term plan.
NHS England (2019) NHS mental health implementation plan 2019/20 – 2023/24.
NHS England and NHS Improvement (2020) Advancing mental health equalities strategy.
Scottish Government (2017) Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
Department of Health (Northern Ireland) (2020) Mental Health Action Plan. Belfast: Department of Health.
Welsh Government (2012) Together for mental health: a strategy for mental health and wellbeing in Wales. Cardiff: Welsh Government.
We would like to thank the RCN Mental Health member community for their input into the development of this subject guide.


Book Cover Barber P, Brown R and Martin D (2020) Mental health law in England and Wales: a guide for mental health professionals. 4th edn. London: Learning Matters.
Book Cover Brathwaite B (ed.) (2019) Diversity and cultural awareness in nursing practice. London: Sage.
Book Cover

Callaghan P and Gamble C (2015) Oxford handbook of mental health nursing. 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Chadwick A and Murphy N (2021) Mental health: a non-specialist introduction for nursing and health care. Banbury: Lantern.

Book Cover Chambers M (2017) Psychiatric and mental health nursing: the craft of caring. 3rd edn. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
book cover

Clifton A, Hemingway S, Felton A and Stacey G (eds.) (2018) Fundamentals of mental health nursing: an essential guide for nursing and healthcare students. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.

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Majors, R, Carberry, K, & Ransaw, TS (eds.) (2020) The international handbook of black community mental health. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.

Book Cover

Mucic D and Hilty D M (eds.) (2015) E-mental health. London: Springer. 


Book Cover Patel V, Prince M, Patel V and Minas I H (2014) Global mental health: principles and practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Book Cover Stickley T, Wright N and Freshwater D (2014) Theories for mental health nursing: a guide for practice. London: SAGE.
Book Cover Townsend M (2014) Psychiatric nursing: assessment, care plans, and medications. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: F A Davis Company.
Book Cover Walker S (ed.) (2015) Psychosocial interventions in mental health nursing. London: Learning Matters.
Wright K and McKeown M (eds.) (2018) Essentials of mental health nursing. London: Sage.
Book Cover Wrycraft N (2015) Assessment and care planning in mental health nursing. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Book subject searches

Use these links to see details of books the RCN libraries hold on each topic.

The Mental Elf

The Mental Elf: "No bias, no misinformation, no spin, just what you need."
  • This website aims to find you just what you need to keep up-to-date with all of the important and reliable mental health research and guidance. It includes short summaries that highlight evidence-based publications relevant to mental health practice in the UK and further afield.
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RCN Mental Health Forum and RCN Libraries (2021) Maybe I don’t belong here: with David Harewood.

Reading Well - Books on Prescription

Reading Well: Books on Prescription for common mental health conditions.
  • These books provide helpful information and step-by-step self-help techniques for managing a variety of common mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. They are endorsed by health professionals.
    View page

Lived experience

Book Cover Filer, N (2019) The heartland: finding and losing schizophrenia. London: Faber & Faber. 
book cover Harewood D (2021) Maybe I don't belong here: a memoir of race, identity, breakdown and recovery. London: Bluebird.
book cover Haig M (2015) Reasons to Stay Alive.  Edinburgh: Canongate Books.
book cover Larcombe J R (2014) Tails I lose: the compulsive gambler who lost his shirt for good. Chicago: Lion Hudson.
book cover Mason P T and Kreger R (2020) Stop walking on eggshells: taking your life back when someone you care about has borderline personality disorder. 3rd edn. Oakland: New Harbinger.
book cover Withey J, Sagan O and Couser G T (eds.) (2017) The recovery letters: addressed to people experiencing depression. London: Jessica Kingsley. 

Nursing History Collection

Book Cover Barker P J R F, Campbell P and Davidson B (1999) From the ashes of experience: reflections on madness, survival and growth. London: Whurr.
Book Cover Nolan P (1993) A history of mental health nursing. London: Chapman & Hall.
Book Cover McCrae N (2016) The story of nursing in British mental hospitals: echoes from the corridors. Abingdon: Routledge.

Special Collections

Medico-Psychological Association (1893) Handbook for attendants on the insane. 2nd edn. London: Bailliere, Tindall and Cox.

Beardshaw V (1981) Conscientious objectors at work: mental hospital nurses : a case study. London: Social Audit.
Book Cover Rippere V and Williams R (1985) Wounded healers: mental health workers’ experiences of depression. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Historical Journals

Nursing Record/British Journal of Nursing (1888-1956)
Trained Attendant (1895) ‘Association of asylum workers [Letter to the Editor]’, The Nursing Record & Hospital World, 31 August, pp. 138–139
Ministry of Health (1944) War and mental health: few cases of ‘Blitz’ neurosis, The British Journal of Nursing, 92(December), p. 139.
Board of Control (1946) The Mental Health Service in war time. 1945 admissions highest on record: record number of discharges, The British Journal of Nursing, 94(December), p. 140.

Anonymous (1955) From madhouse to mental hospital, The British Journal of Nursing, (July).

Upcoming events relating to this subject guide

Page last updated - 09/06/2022