Last I looked at the NMC statistics there were over 100,000 Registered Mental Health nurses in the UK, Isn’t it time that we flexed our muscles and got our voices heard?
Mental Health Nursing in the UK is beginning to adapt to the 21st century. As a professional group we are facing some fascinating opportunities and challenges. Increasingly we are required to consider Human Rights v Responsibilities v Risk. This is interwoven with the Mental Capacity Act, the reviewed Mental Health Act alongside Nursing & Midwifery Council changes to pre-registration and post-registration education, New Ways of Working, The Darzi Review, Nurse prescribing, The National Dementia Strategy and greater demands for evidence based practice just to identify a small selection of the policy drivers in mental health nursing and services.
As a mental health nurse educator of many years I would contend that not only do we need high quality initial and continuing education but Mental Health nurses need to demonstrate their worth and value and expertise to mental health service users, carers and services through recognised research processes. We need to engage with high quality, large, random controlled trials (these are the Department of Health Gold Standard) which examine and specifies what we do, how, why and when we are effective in practice.
Looking over the pond to the example of our American colleagues in the American Psychiatric Nursing Association provides some useful strategies that mental health nurses in the UK could employ to enhance our practice. An effective national organisation for mental health nurses might be a start alongside a commitment to promoting rigorous doctoral level programmes for mental health nurses into their practice – too ambitious, I would welcome responses.