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Being part of this committee has been an amazing learning experience

Ed Freshwater 16 Jul 2020 Mental Health Forum

This is a time of unprecedented pressure and stress on an already overworked and overwhelmed workforce. It's vital as we emerge from the pandemic lockdown that the voice of mental health nursing is heard and represented.

The Royal College of Nursing’s Mental Health Forum is the largest of the professional nursing forums, and the only one that represents the mental health nursing speciality with over 13,000 members. Our forum is a powerful voice not just within the RCN but across health care and wider society; we contribute to policy, work with other colleges and organisations, represent the profession in the media and contribute to debate.

In my six years on this committee, the last four as Chair, I’ve experienced so much – from managing our monthly committee meetings (more fun than it sounds!) to presenting resolutions at Congress; from consulting our membership on changes to the Mental Health Act to supporting committee colleagues in presenting those findings on a national platform. It’s a role and a responsibility I have found rewarding and challenging in equal measure.

The purpose of the forums within the RCN is to consult members, sponsor projects, share ideas and push for change. Every year we have one strategy meeting and eleven conference calls to formulate plans and manage progress.

We have led the RCN on issues like parity of esteem, therapeutic staffing in mental health services, challenging government policy on recruitment and retention, and been a visible (and vocal!) contributor.

We also collaborate with other forums in developing projects, and our committee members have spoken at events run by branches to support colleagues in other fields to better understand the impact of mental illness on their patient groups.

This year our steering committee has four vacancies. The forum committee must represent the diversity, skills, wisdom and experience of our membership, and the role is open to any member who meets the eligibility criteria - from students to chief executives. As a steering committee member, you will be adept at listening, working on projects and speaking up for your colleagues; by far the most important quality you could bring to this post is enthusiasm.

If you want to represent your profession and campaign for better outcomes, then we need you to apply today. Applications are particularly welcome from groups who have been historically underrepresented, especially Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic members. Our committee aims to include members from all four countries of the UK.

Being part of this committee has been an amazing learning experience for me; take the opportunity and apply today.
Ed Freshwater

Ed Freshwater

RCN Mental Health Forum Chair

Mental Health Nurse

Ed started working in mental health as an HCA in 2009, before starting his nursing degree. He has written a regular column for the British Journal of Nursing and is passionate about protecting and empowering those most marginalised by mental illness, and championing the role of the mental health nurse.

Page last updated - 18/05/2022