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Mental Health Nursing

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Arabiannights01 Mon 30-Dec-19 22:31:07

I wasn't sure where to post this but it seems that my partner and I may be parting ways and I would really like to change career to Mental Health Nursing.

Can anybody advise as to how challenging this might be with a toddler? I am thinking of him as I consider this and I think it will be best in the long-run primarily for stability.

Also, if anyone can advise where I can get help with a personal statement that would be great.

Thank you from a very stressed first - time Mummy.

OP’s posts: |
BuddingBaker Tue 31-Dec-19 18:05:30

Hi there, I've worked in mental health for 2 years as a healthcare assistant and it is a very stressful job, especially for the nurses. There is a lot of pressure put on newly graduated nurses because there simply aren't enough qualified staff and in the last year alone 3 nurses from my ward have gone on long term sickness due to anxiety/depression/ stress caused by work and 6 more have quit because the pressure was too much. Even without a toddler it will be quite a demanding job. (To be clear, I work on a ward with only 6 patients, other wards can have up to 20)

That being said, it is very rewarding work and it's so nice to be able to help someone completely turn their life around so dont be too put off. Just consider the following;

-its shift work and you'll be expected to work nights or 14 hour days quite often which is very difficult to fit around family life and childcare. You'll also be expected to work Christmas, new year, Easter etc at times

-Mental health nursing puts you at a high risk of violence. You may need to restrain very aggressive patients and may have patients get verbally agressive and violent towards you. It's always a risk in mental health. Staff get bitten, punched and kicked a lot so bare in mind how not only you will feel about the risks associated with this work, but your partner and child too. I had a patient try to trap all the staff on the ward by blocking the key holes for the doors then starting a fire. No one was hurt thankfully but I didnt make it home until gone midnight after being due to finish at 9pm. We weren't able to contact family to let them know what was going on but luckily my partner works in the same building.

I dont want to scare you or put you off, but I see a lot of student nurses who come to work in the hospital as part of their training and are shocked at what it's actually like to work in mental health. It's a very dangerous job at times and although there are steps you can take to keep yourself safe, unfortunately sometimes staff get attacked or injured in a restraint. It's going to be very challenging with a small child but my partner and I are managing well enough with our 9 month old. Will the shift pattern work with childcare? As an example, the shifts at my ward are 7am-3pm, 1:30pm-9:30pm, 7am-9:30pm or 9pm-7:30am. More often then not nurses wont get a chance to have a brake.

If you think you'll be able to manage absolutely go for it, it's an amazing job and it's so rewarding to help people and see the change in them when they're discharged. But, as you're unsure I'd recommend trying a shift or two on a mental health ward and seeing how you cope. If you look on the NHS jobs site you can apply for a bank position, which basically means you'll have 0 hours and just pick up shifts on any ward you like whenever it suits you. You have to do 1 shift every 6 weeks minimum to stay on bank and get paid 2 weeks after the shift. I'd take some health care assistant shifts on different types of wards and see what you think before committing to nursing.

I work on a PICU (psyhicatric intensive care unit) which does tend to have more violent and agressive patients because we get the patients who are very unwell and my partner works on an acute ward which is a step down from mine and has 21 patients. They aren't as unwell but there are still incidents that make it a risky job.

If you try some bank shifts and like it, be sure to look into the new apprenticeship schemes. This is where the NHS sponsors your nursing degree and you get paid whilst studying and working. I think it takes a little longer but may be easier on you than having to worry about paying for and attending university with your little one. During studying you will be expected to travel to various wards to work for several weeks at a time so bare that in mind as well as they may not all be close to home.

I hope that's helped and not put you off too much - you need to be able to make an informed decision. If you have any questions I'm more than happy to help smile

BuddingBaker Tue 31-Dec-19 18:20:34

Sorry to go on so much, it's just a bit of a bugbear on the ward when we are always short staffed, finally get permission from HR to recruit and end up with someone who has no idea what it's like to work on a mental health work and ends up getting scared off and quitting, leaving us even more short staffed so I think you need to be certain this is what you want to do.

I love my job and sure, you have to watch your back (quite literally, when I first started I found myself on edge even when I wasnt at work) but it is so rewarding. Another massive pro is that you will probably end up getting along really well with your colleagues. My ward is incredibly close because you go through so much together and people who dont work there dont understand what it's like. We go out for drinks together, games nights etc and it's really nice because you feel supported and know they are always there to have your back. You'll never have to deal with aggression on your own - literally as soon as someone starts getting angry on my ward normally 6 staff members turn up and just stay close to deal with the situation and it's quite reassuring.

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best

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