Tag Archives: birmingham city university

Child and Adolescent Mental Health – Every child matters!

Copy of Copy of park apr 07 006

The recent dept of Health document “No health without mental health” emphasises the need to prioritise preventative and early intervention services when responding to the mental health needs of young people.

Yet, I believe that people are unaware of the numbers of young people suffering with serious mental health problems.  Mental health promotion for young people is vital, in my opinion; failure to intervene early enough contributes to a life of distress, barriers, and problems for too many young people.  I am aware of many children struggling with the challenges of education, learning and growing up whilst also experiencing low mood, depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts.

More young people are being referred to CAMHS services.  It is worrying that at least 1 in 4 young people are likely to be referred to CAMHS during their childhood or adolescence.  Within the West Midlands CAMHS community and in-patient services for young people have been developed in response to this growing need.

As a CAMHS nurse and a senior lecturer at BCU I believe passionately that the comprehensive health care needs of young people and their families must be integral to our courses.  We must ensure all pre-registration student nurses have opportunities to consider child and adolescent development issues, the importance of attachments and supportive relationships, risk and resilience factors which impact on health, the incidence and nature of mental health and related challenges, the structure, and how to access  CAMHS.

Child and adolescent mental health is “everybody’s business” whether we are engaged directly or indirectly with children and their families.  We have a timely opportunity to integrate this perspective within our student population: tomorrow’s registered nurses.

I hope we do not miss this opportunity.

We also offer a Learning beyond Registration CAMHS pathway as part of our BSc(Hons) Mental Health Studies programme for registered nurses, allied professionals, and other people interested in the health and wellbeing of young people. Please contact me if you are interested in hearing more about our learning beyond registration BSC(Hons) CAMHS pathway.  We are currently planning the two double modules which will be offered during the 2011/12 academic year which is scheduled to commence in October this year.


Course details

New Perinatal mental health care course

(This is a post by Pam Morley, Senior Lecturer at Birmingham City University)

Many people are aware of possible mental health problems associated with pregnancy but do people realise how destructive these can be?  Suicide in the perinatal period is the highest cause of maternal death in the UK.  Also, maternal depression prior to the baby’s birth can increase the risk of birth complications and poorer birth outcomes, including higher rates of spontaneous abortion, low birth weight babies and developmental delay.  Again, anxiety in the mother has been shown to be linked to poorer child health and behavioural difficulties at the age of four years.

National Perinatal Mental Health Project

The National Perinatal Mental Health Project Report, published by the Mental Health Development Unit on 8th March 2011 examines provision of mental health care for women who are planning to have a baby, are pregnant or who have had a baby in the past year or so.  In particular the report examines the current provision of care for women in the Black and Ethnic Minority groups.  (http://www.nmhdu.org.uk/silo/files/national-perinatal-mental-health-project-report-.pdf)

Seamless care?

As I was reading this report one finding struck me as being very significant; namely that 27 different professional groups may be involved in the care of women with mental health difficulties who are in the perinatal period.   How can all these different groups work together to provide seamless, efficient care?   After all, many of them will have been trained in different ways and use various theories to underpin their practice.

So, how can care be co-ordinated and dove-tailed together?  The answer is fairly straightforward, I think.  It is the mental health nurse who is at the hub of the multidisciplinary ‘wheel’ together with the service user.  It is the mental health nurse who spends time with the service user, who is the conduit through which messages are passed and information carried.  Perhaps we should be highlighting this aspect of our role much more.  Forget superconductors; just get a mental health nurse involved!

Post-graduate certificate in perinatal mental health at Birmingham City University

Seriously though, we should be promoting this aspect of our role, and giving it the value that it deserves.  Without the nurse to ‘glue’ the team together, care would be a lot more fragmented.  The importance of communication is a strong aspect of a new post-graduate certificate in perinatal mental health being run at Birmingham City University.   This is a brand new course, designed b y academics and clinicians together and aimed at any health care professionals who work with women in the perinatal period.  If you would like more information about the course, please email pam.morley@bcu.ac.uk.

(Pictures from Flickr creative commons click photos for more details re authors)

Uniforms in Mental Health Nursing…or not?

Andy Hamilton honoured
(Perhaps the last time our Mental Health Nursing graduates will wear a uniform?)

This post looks at some of the issues around the wearing of uniforms in mental health nursing, as usual we would welcome any comments that you may have.

Currently, although most mental health nurses do not have to wear uniforms this is under review at our local trust – (Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust ). According to Deputy Director of Nursing Martin Herriott, the Trust are looking at re-introducing uniforms in some areas such as acute in-patient and older peoples services.

Feedback from both service users and carers indicate that staff are often very hard to identify, uniforms might make this less of a problem as well as making staff appear more professional? Of course, there are ongoing concerns around infection control in areas where staff are likely to be exposed to bodily fluids of any sort.

In some areas it is likely that the Trust will avoid uniforms, such as for example long term residential areas where service users are likely to live for any length of time in home like environments. Also, staff going outside of care areas with clients (for instance escorting people to hospital appointments etc) will need to cover up uniforms.

Obviously, this is a potentially controversial idea – although some people are in favour of wearing uniforms, others are likely to be less keen. I found a recent survey amongst patients in a US mental health unit (Miller,T. Mann, N. Grim, R 2010). This study set out to examine patients attitudes about what nurses wore and whether their attire made nurses appear more approachable, competent and professional. Whilst most did have any particular preference what staff wore there was a lot of concern that nurses were difficult to identify. Interestingly, whilst over half of the respondents felt that attire made no difference to approachability, 29% felt that ordinary clothes made nurses seem less approachable!

Another, earlier study conducted in London (Tham, S & Ford, T 1995) concluded that it was other staff who had difficulty identifying nurses whilst 36% of patients felt that uniforms made staff less approachable. For some reason, patients in ‘old age wards’ were excluded from this study – (old age = ‘assume that everyone has dementia?) a shame as this is a client group most likey to encounter nurses wearing uniforms. This aside, it was generally agreed that identification of some sort was really important.

Across at Mental Nurse blog there was a discussion about uniform – most contributors were opposed although there was a contribution from a service user who flagged up the issue of nurses being identifiable (although in fairness, uniform/ identification might not have been at the top of my list of priorities to sort out in this example).

We did a quick (and totally unscientific survey) with a BCU student group and asked them what they thought about this issue.

(thanks to Kate Hopley, Oliver O’Connell & Kimberley Zilke for filming and BCU pre reg MH group Dip HE 0409 for appearing in the film)


Miller, T. Mann, N. Grim, D (2010) Clothes Encounter: Patient Perception of Nursing Attire in a Behavioral Health Unit. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. 16(3):178-183, May/June 2010
Tham, S & Ford, TJ (1995) Staff dress on acute psychiatric wards Journal of Mental Health 4, 297-299

Life as a new Mental Health nursing student

This blog has taken a bit of a break over the last few weeks & I am pleased to say that we are back in business & looking forward to continuing where we left off.

I am delighted to start us off with a guest post from Kate Hopley who has recently begun her mental nurse training at BCU. Kate has also started a Facebook group for BCU students & wanted to let you know about this as well.

Don’t forget – we are always very keen to publish contributions from anyone who has something to say about mental health – from any perspective, see the ‘about us’ page.

Seacole Building at the Edgbaston Campus of Birmingham City University
Seacole Building at the Edgbaston Campus of Birmingham City University

I started this course in April to learn about and get involved in mental health, to pursue my own interest, and to get job satisfaction by doing something useful in society. These sound like laudable aims I am sure, but I honestly had absolutely no idea what to expect from going back into education approaching 30. I was not entirely confident that walking away from a secure (paper-pushing) career path after 8 years was the ‘sensible’ thing to do, although it certainly felt right…



So I am now almost 4 months into the course and about to start my first placement. I have enjoyed my first few months of university, especially the biology lectures since I used to like that subject at school, although I have found it strange to get back into the whole routine of study after such a gap. I have rediscovered the joy of reading text books and doing homework in bed, but I have also felt a strange unease about not being at work since that is what I am used to doing… I have a lot less cash than I had before, so we’ve adjusted the weekly shop and are eating like students and drinking endless cups of tea instead of wine. Which is good for the liver, I suppose.


I am excited about starting placement as it will be satisfying to get into a hands-on work-based routine again. I went with a fellow student to visit our placement earlier this week and we were both really enthused and impressed by the progressive approaches we were introduced to, and the whole ethos of person-centred older adult care.


Last time I worked in a nursing home (12 years ago) I can remember heated debates at handover between the night shift and the day shift about how many residents had been got up for breakfast. The idea had been to ensure that the routine of getting up, washed, having breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and going to bed ran to the schedule which was most convenient for the nursing staff. My visit to placement showed me just how much things have changed.


Nowadays the emphasis is on the needs of the individual resident: if Doris doesn’t normally get up until 11, and prefers a shower rather than a bath, then she should be supported to continue her personal daily routine. For a patient with dementia or Alzheimer’s, any sort of change of routine or environment can be unsettling and can cause confusion, so person-centred care is important for rehabilitation.


 We were introduced to the local policies of the placement, and how they are founded in research. We were given an idea of how the placement planned to develop further, and were talked through examples of the change process in action. This helped me to see links to our university Personal and Professional Development module and to our placement documents – linking practice to evidence.


I am sure I will learn a lot on placement – I only hope I can remember what we did at university by the time we come back in October!





1. BCU Flickr feed

2. sergis blog’s photostream on Flickr

3. A close reading of the text by khrawlings on Flickr

From mental health nurse to nurse lecturer.

This post is from Samantha Chapman, who has just started work as a Mental Health Nurse Lecturer at BCU. We are delighted to welcome her to BCU & hope that you will give her a warm welcome too!

Having spent the last 6 years working with people who experience severe and enduring mental health needs I am now into my third week as a mental health nurse lecturer at Birmingham City University. Frequently having to pull myself down from cloud nine, I shake my own shoulders and remind myself ‘this is the honeymoon period’. Soon I will be committed to my own workload and responsibilities. The transition from nursing in an Assertive Outreach Team to nurse lecturer so far has been very different but enjoyable. I loved nursing; in fact it’s the longest I have ever stayed in the same job. I loved the variety, the experience, the presentation of symptoms, patient’s strengths and advocating, caring and the ongoing learning process as I became more experienced. People I worked with predicted the world of lecturing for me before I chose the path myself. In response I would tell them I’m not ready to leave clinical practice, equally I loved presenting and sharing information to teams, staff, patients and students within my nurse role.

Now I have entered a world where the language and terms used are strange and new. Three weeks into the job I have met with Moodle, Eyelit, Talislist and Uceel, tools I am to become familiar with as they become part of my daily teaching. There is plenty to keep any lecturer busy, with moderation, invigilation, interviews, marking, quality meetings, boards of study and Rolex. There are students to visit on placement, tutorial meetings and personal students to support. There are pathways to co-ordinate, modules to run and classes to teach. In addition, lecturers will want to commit some of their time and interests in research, publication of work, design and creation of new teaching systems. For me, effective time and diary management is essential if I want to contribute fully to my role.

Considering the amount of work expected of the lecturer is it also important to allow time for ongoing involvement in clinical practice. How much time can I realistically commit? Is clinical practice the only way to stay fresh and ahead with clinical issues and skills? Is it essential and do students notice a difference to the quality of their learning experience? Having recently come from clinical practice, I am more concerned with the long term effects if clinical experience is not maintained. Is there cause for concern?

With all that I have highlighted, the University is a buzzing place to work, this week there were delicious homemade cakes, strawberries and cream and fruit punch to tempt us all and raise money for charity, the lemon slice with homemade lemon curd was particularly tasty! When the sun is shining the grounds are perfect for a sunny lunch break.

I would be interested in any comments.


Birmingham City University – Recovery forum


We are planning to start a Recovery Forum at Birmingham City University.  In January I contributed a post about the Hearing Voices module that had been running throughout the autumn term.  The course gave students an introduction to the work of Marius Romme and Sandra Escher, whose work has inspired the Hearing Voices Network.  There are now over 170 Hearing Voices groups in the UK. 


The Hearing Voices module encourages participants to begin using Romme and Escher’s Maastricht Interview Schedule with service users.  The Maastricht Interview Schedule is not a quick assessment tool, but rather a way of helping people to talk about voice-hearing.  We also discussed ways that people have found to cope with problematic voice-hearing; and we talked about group work led by voice-hearers themselves, that has been shown to be effective in offering support, hope and meaning to people.   


The underlying premise of this work is that voice-hearing itself is not a problem which needs to be eliminated.  Many voice-hearers consider their voices to be positive, or at least an acceptable part of their experience.  Romme and Escher’s work helps people to talk about their voice-hearing experience, to accept that the voices are real – and may have meaning based on life experiences.  This respect for the experience of the person is at the heart of the recovery movement.


The recovery process according to the Mental Health Foundation 

  • provides a holistic view of mental illness that focuses on the person, not just their symptoms
  • believes recovery from severe mental illness is possible
  • is a journey rather than a destination
  • does not necessarily mean getting back to where you were before
  • happens in ‘fits and starts’ and, like life, has many ups and downs
  • calls for optimism and commitment from all concerned
  • is profoundly influenced by people’s expectations and attitudes
  • requires a well organised system of support from family, friends or professionals
  • requires services to embrace new and innovative ways of working

The recovery movement has been gaining strength within and outside of mental health services.   Many people with the recovery movement are challenging the traditional language and power structures of psychiatry – and the recovery model is as much user-led and influenced by professionals. 


In order to support those who have attended the Hearing Voices module to continue to work collaboratively with voice-hearers, and according to the recovery model we are setting up a Recovery Forum at Birmingham City University.  We anticipate the first session to take place in July 2009.  There will be more details to follow.  Members of university and trust staff with an interest in this area are also warmly invited to attend. 


Mental Health Nursing & e-learning at Birmingham City University

In common with most higher education institutions Birmingham City University courses use elements of e-learning to support the face to face taught sessions. We use a system called Moodle, which is considered  to be the most popular learning management system in the world being used in 199 countries by 25,477 people (As at 17.12.2008 see link for latest figures) . Students studying Mental Health Nursing at the Faculty of Health are no exception.

BCU Mental Health Nursing Students
BCU Mental Health Nursing Students

Individual course modules each have their own Moodle site, these are also grouped together into a single site called ‘The Mental Health Learning Community’. We have really tried to develop a good range of resources to support student learning such as filmed scenarios, quizzes and interactive resources. The intention was to try and make the online component of the course as accessible and interesting as possible. As part of this project an informal evaluation was carried out.

Over 200 students completed an evaluation survey which asked about their experience of using the online resources. The first sample of 142 students was taken between February and September 2007 and this was repeated with 60 students between October and November 2008. The survey suggests an interesting shift in the way students are using these resources.

Amongst the 2007 group, 12% stated that they rarely or never used the Moodle resources provided. There is quite a significant change over the course of a year as 100% of students surveyed accessed Moodle to some extent.

There are still some problems regarding ease of access. In response to the question ‘How easy did you find it to access the resources at University’ 30% found it ‘very easy’ in 2007 as compared with 32% a year later. Although no-one said they did not access it now (5% last year) there clearly remain some difficulties to look at.

Generally we were delighted with evidence suggesting that a large majority of students (98%) agreed that Moodle resources enhanced learning on the course to a ‘large extent’ or ‘some extent’. Again, this represents a positive shift towards acceptance of this resource.

These are just a few examples of the informal evaluation undertaken. This process is being used as part of a pilot study to be developed into a wider and more detailed research study to be completed over the course of 2009. Hopefully it should be possible to give information about this at a later date.