There is an absolute need to equate the importance of mental health and mental health service provision with physical health and physical health service provision. We call this parity of esteem.
Nicola Davis-Job, Interim Associate Director (Professional Practice), said: “Nurses are in a position to understand the wider determinants of health when assessing a patients’ needs, both mental and physical health, and consider how these may be affecting a persons’ overall health and wellbeing.
We are beginning to forge working relationships with mental health leads in the Welsh Government. Our role will be to continue to influence this agenda and reflect the experiences of nurses and service users in our conversations, in order to ensure that key priorities are being met."
Jonathan Gapper, Clinical Lead PICU Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB and RCN Wales Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Nurse of the Year runner up 2018, said: “Mental health staff feel overwhelmed and inexperienced in dealing with physical health needs that the majority of us are not working with on a regular basis. I feel that nurses trained in mental health are confident in dealing with minor physical health problems, however I do feel that more training opportunities for mental health staff would ‘bridge the gap’ between treating and stabilising physical health needs within mental health services. I am aware that there is view to introduce more nurse practitioner roles within mental health to aid psychiatric staff with the confidence and skills when dealing with physical health issues, which seem to be growing in recent years.
He added: “I feel that mental health nurses (including myself) have become ‘blinkered’ on occasions with assessing and treating psychiatric symptoms as a priority, however I feel that good nursing care is provided through a ‘biopsychosocial approach’. I speak on behalf of my team here at PICU that further training opportunities for qualified nurses to enhance clinical and physical assessment skills would be pursued if the opportunity were to arise”.