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The inherent value of mental health nursing

Eileen McKenna 10 Oct 2023

On World Mental Health Day 2023, we’re reminded that since the Covid-19 pandemic there’s been a steep rise in the prevalence of people in Scotland experiencing challenges to their good mental health. 

Illustration of two healthcare professionals addressing mental health
Anyone can experience those challenges. Supporting people to deal with them involves of all sorts of people and professionals. As a society we’re also seeing the increased use of modern technology to provide help, for example, through accessing talking therapies online and the use of self-help apps. 

But the largest workforce and source of support for those with mental health challenges has always been, and remains, nursing. In Scotland there are currently almost 10,000 mental health nursing staff in the NHS alone with yet more working in social care, GP practices and other independent services. 

The ethos of the nursing profession is set out unequivocally in the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code and Standards. It should come as no surprise that it matches the supportive person-centred ethos that characterises best practice in the modern approach to mental health across the board. Mental health nursing takes a wholistic approach that pays just as much attention to the personal circumstances and characteristics of an individual as to any medical treatment that they may need. 

The inherent value of mental health nursing is why RCN welcomes the recent announcement by the Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport, Maree Todd, that Scottish government will conduct a review of mental health nursing to strengthen and further embed the role of nursing across mental health provision. 

The review recognises the essential clinical role of nursing in Scotland’s mental health services and the need for significant improvements in workforce planning. While welcoming the review, RCN Scotland is clear that this must produce fully funded actions to retain and recruit mental health nurses.  

We, and our members, look forward to participating in the review and to it securing the mental health nursing profession for the future that Scotland needs and deserves. 

More information about World Mental Health Day 2023 is here.

Eileen McKenna

Associate Director, RCN Scotland

Eileen McKenna is Associate Director (Professional Practice), RCN Scotland.

Page last updated - 09/03/2024