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Are there any Mental Health Nurses out there??????

(25 Posts)
tiredemma Sun 18-Feb-07 11:15:10

Can you help me? Im having a bit of a dilemma at the moment.

Im doing a nursing degree, am in my first year. I started the degree with the intention of choosing adult branch in my second year, but have had this niggling at the back of my mind throughout my two years on access course and 6mths so far at uni- about mental health nursing.

Tomorrow I will be going on a 5 week mental health placement within a rehabilitation centre, i suppose that this will make up my mind whether it is for me or not. The only thing that concerns me with this is that it is only one area of mental health - I dont want to make my mind up about my future based on one placement.
For the past two weeks I have had mental health prep for practice sessions and I really feel that this is the area of nursing that I want to go into.

...but I just feel really confused!

CAn anyone offer any help/advice about MH nursing? I researched the role of Adult/general nurse to the death but payed not much attention to MH.
I have to make a decision by July about which branch I want to choose, which may seem like a long way off, but judging by how fast the last 6 mths has gone, isnt.

Any help/advice/info will be greatly appreciated.

ta x

tiredemma Sun 18-Feb-07 11:28:22

can I keep this bumped please. So i can 'catch' one of you!!

tiredemma Sun 18-Feb-07 12:14:01


tiredemma Sun 18-Feb-07 16:17:01

bump again

newlifenewname Sun 18-Feb-07 16:23:42

I haven't really a clue from the perspective you need but I have experienced, within mental health, CPN and Occ Health nursing - are these possibilities? If so I know about both from a carer perspective. Or, what about outreach CMHT stuff?

tiredemma Sun 18-Feb-07 16:33:04

well that would help. what was important about each of these? im mean- in your view- what was the most important attribute of them to you, as a service user?

foxinsocks Sun 18-Feb-07 16:34:25

think edie123 is a mental health nurse (but not sure if she has name changed)

tiredemma Sun 18-Feb-07 16:39:13

she must have name changed as I have just searched under that name and there are no posts after Oct.

Jelley Sun 18-Feb-07 16:41:05

I was RMN, but trained a long time ago, so I have very little general experience to compare.
Once I qualified I worked in elderly care (assessment and long term dementia care) which is not a popular choice even amongst mental health nurses.

What do you want to know, and I'll try and answer you....

tiredemma Sun 18-Feb-07 16:44:22

I really dont know 'what' I want to know jelly, I just know that im becoming more and more drawn in by MH nursing. I think its the therapeutic side and 'talking treatment' stuff. I have had fantastic feedback from my placements for my communication skills, general nursing is just not luring me as it was.

Jelley Sun 18-Feb-07 16:50:14

I never considered general nursing. My training was the old hospital based one so you decided right at the start of the three years.

Outside my area, it is much less physical, and if your listening and communication skills are good, then go with your gut. Mental Health nursing needs more good people.

Have you thought about counselling on its own? - very useful when combined with general nursing in lots of ways.

newlifenewname Sun 18-Feb-07 16:50:33

Ok well, CPN was possibly most instrumental in bringing about change for our family because he was seen most frequently. However, the first CPN was very vague and we could easily have done without him. CPN role is often a shared Social Worker role I believe - sort of doubling up - so CPN might help with filling in the DLA claims form and all that yawnsome stuff. Very practical hands on sort of role from what I could tell and far less therapeutic as the weeks rolled on. I imagine the role is defined as much by the service user though??!

Hospital nurses were not all MH specialists to my surprise but then that kind of figures since they had to do a lot of clearing up of poo, wee and vom and dishing out the dinner with an obligatory sarky tone.

The MH nurses on ward were fab and that role seemed very hands on and there was involvement with whole family as well as patient and other MH practitioners.

Out reach nurse was very important to me as carer and I could not have coped without her. She provided a smooth transition from hopsital to home as well as providing quite a therapeutic role for me just by talking. An insightful outreach nurse could easily take huge credit for turning a service users's situation around in my view.

Occupational Health nurses provided some counselling which was fair to poor and also basket weaving and group drama as therapy. Piss poor was our (dp and my) view but it could have been so much better.

Not sure if I am helping much sorry - child screaming in ear and have had enough!

tiredemma Sun 18-Feb-07 17:06:14

I hadnt thought of counselling as well as jelly. maybe something I should look at.

Thank you newlife, that is really really helpful.

CPN and Outreach, really interests me.

tiredemma Sun 18-Feb-07 19:09:27


2sprogsmum Sun 18-Feb-07 19:18:26

my friend is studying mental health nursing at the moment. She is in her last year. If you want to ask her anything, I will ring her for you!

Aero Sun 18-Feb-07 19:32:35

I can't really tell you anything, but my aunt is a MH nurse and was a great help to us when my sister was ill. Her knowledge and care was invaluable and she too has the gentle communication skills this job needs. I think it's an area of nursing that needs a special type of person with a genuine concern for the patients one would be dealing with. I take my hat off to MH nurses. I also think it can be a very stressful job and definitely requires a very dedicated type of commitment. We did come across a few rather apathetic uncaring nurses while my dsis was in hospital which was unfortunate, so the job definitely needs folk like yourself with this genuine desire to help people with this type of illness.

filthymindedvixen Sun 18-Feb-07 19:35:44

is ediemccready the same as edie 123?

3andnomore Sun 18-Feb-07 19:58:29

Can I just say, that if you feel very drawn to it, then it may well possibly be your field of interest!
Have a look into at your placement, and there you will probably be able to talk to the other staff that has chosen this route and will be able to ask questions and experiences, as more experienced staff will have had different jobs in different Mental health settings....and you may even meet a nurse or 2, who decided to do it after General nursing, that may well will give you an inside....

3andnomore Sun 18-Feb-07 20:07:09

also, just had a look at this link and it states that there is a national shortage of Mental Health Nurses, so, Job prospects are might be worth considering!

brimfull Sun 18-Feb-07 20:26:30

tiredemma,I trained ad an rgn then went on to do my rmn training afterwards,so this was years ago.I was drawn to the counselling side of it but in the end decided general nursing was more for me.
Mental nursing takes a lot of self discipline and I found the staff I worked with were a mix if "gung ho go for it "types and "sit back and smoke a fag with the patients " types the latter being more common.This was a good 20 yrs ago and I'm sure things have changed ,I had most of my experience in acute admission wards so the community would have a different feel to it.But I was dissappointed with the apathetic attitude of a lot of the staff tbh.Hope it has changed now.

steinermum Sun 18-Feb-07 20:57:25

Hi Tiredemma
I trained as a mental health nurse in the early nineties, but stopped to have kids. Whilst I was training, an author called Liane Jones wrote a book called 'Handle with care' - a year in the life of twelve nurses,(Macmillan press) which interviewed staff and students from all branches of nursing
and gave a good insight into the different areas of nursing. There's certainly no harm in doing your adult branch, then going in to mental health later. That general nursing knowledge is never wasted. Mental health is great if that's where you're drawn - endlessly fascinating. Don't agonise - it doesn't matter if you end up doing both, it will give you a broader view. If you do get hold of the book I mentioned, I'm 'Nicola' in it.

tiredemma Mon 19-Feb-07 18:40:00

First day was FANTASTIC.

I loved it there, learnt so much just in one day.

Will type more later, but so far SO GOOD.

Jelley Mon 19-Feb-07 19:20:37

Glad you enjoyed it.

JiminyCricket Mon 19-Feb-07 19:41:09

Hi, I'm a mental health OT but work with lots of MH nurses, and tbh in lots of areas of mental health the professional roles overlap a lot.
I don't have much experience of physical settings though. I would say on the plus side: quite a lot of autonomy about which area of skills you develop and roles you take on, or how you implement or manage your day to day work (this will depend a lot on whether you are doing something like in-patient acute - working with people experiencing a crisis like depression, psychosis etc - or community - same client group, more long term ) I mean the community workers get a bit more autonomy - on the flip side the in-patient nurses get more team support, a more rapidly changing workload etc. Loads of different areas to specialise in - elderly (which includes dementia care as well as depression, anxiety, psychosis etc), child and adolescent, I work in eating disorders. No uniform, usually. But I would not be realistic if I didn't point out some difficulties. First, services seem to be (by and large) going towards 'managing' only the most seriously ill rather than 'treating' people with useful therapies or caring support, so that can be frustrating. The financial situation can mean further training is severely limited. In many physical settings you see people fairly quickly get better, though of course sometimes worse - in a mental health setting sometimes the pace of change or recovery can be frustratingly slow, or you can feel you're not really helping someone. Someone who you've seen make a good recovery can be back in the same ward a few months later and that can be hard. Also in physical your job (I guess) is often a lot clearer, whereas helping someone manage their mental health is maybe a bit more hit and miss? I've not regretted my decision but I know some mental health workers can get a bit burnt out, but I'm sure that is true in most jobs. Managing your workload and getting good clinical supervision helps a lot. Don't know if that makes any sense but good luck with your decision whatever it is.

tiredemma Sat 24-Feb-07 07:57:14

Well first week on placement is over.

So far it has been really interesting, Im learning much more about mental illnesses. I have done lots of stuff with the service users - did pottery earlier on in the week, bingo and had a 'hair and beauty session' where I put make up on some of the ladies and painted their nails. It was fab!!

Its nice to sit and chat to people and learn about their past and their illnesses, before I went into the centre I was aprehensive and I suppose naive believing that everyone would be behaving extremely irratically, but its nothing like that at all.
Many of the people there suffer from bipolar disorder and its interesting to talk to these people and learn about their illness.

Not one service user has made me feel uncomfortable, a member of staff has both with his attitude towards the service users and myself, but thats another story- and I can quite handle him.

Going out next week with the CPN's in the early intervention teams and assertive outreach.
Also going into an acute unit and am desperatly trying to get a few days with CAMHS.

Still have the dilemma of doing adult or mental health nursing, im really confused about it still.

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