What do mental health nurses do?

Researchers from the College of Science, Health and Engineering have asked a range of health professionals about the work of mental health nurses

Researchers have asked a range of health professionals about the work of mental health nurses. It is the first study to map this work from different stakeholder perspectives.

“Mental health nurses provide care and treatment to patients in a variety of inpatient and community settings,” says lead researcher, Professor Richard Gray.

“Our goal was to map their core competencies, including knowledge, clinical skills and attitudes, because these competencies may directly impact clinical outcomes.”

The research team recruited 48 people from five stakeholder groups – including consumers, psychiatric nurses, clinical leaders, psychiatrists and nurse academics – to explore their views about the care and treatment that mental health nurses provide.

They found that there were stark differences between different groups about how they perceived the work of mental health nurses.

“Nurses and psychiatrists considered ‘risk assessment’ to be more important than consumers did,” says Professor Gray. “Consumers said it was critical that nurses empower patients to make decisions about their own care, while nurses reported this as less important.”

The team believe that the lack of clarity in mental health nursing should be addressed to ensure that clinical services are providing safe, effective and equitable care to people experiencing mental health problems.

“If clinical services are clear and transparent about what mental health nurses do, and why, this will improve consumers experience and outcomes,” he says.

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