penniroyaltea
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Are they quite similar in a way?
I'm really struggling when choosing between the two and wonder if they overlap ( I mean occupational therapy in relation to mental health)
Could anyone with experience in either field, tell me a little about their experiences please?
I'd really appreciate it, thanks
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xEmmalinax
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I completely had this dilemma too!
They are very similar in mental health community care as far as I can tell - I had work experience with an OT in a community setting and she worked alongside mental health social workers and mental health nurses - they all were doing very similar jobs in the community, which was helping to promote the independence of the service users, but they were just approaching the care from different angles.
What made me go for OT over mental health nursing is that from what I saw on that work experience placement & what I've learnt from university open days, the mental health nurses were concerned with symptoms, past experiences & biological causes (+ medication), whereas the OT was concerned with where the service users were at, where they want to be and what they can help put into place to help the service user get there. I think that's obviously a major part of mhn, but moreso with OT. I'm not sure if this makes sense hah, I've had very little sleep!
For me I wanted to make a difference to people by tailoring care to their individual needs as well as being able to be creative and more free to come up with ideas. I think it depends on which aspect you're most keen on, for me it was mainly the creativity aspect that appealed to me, plus I like the idea of helping people by helping them to explore things they enjoy rather than being wholly focused on their symptoms, medication and things they're unable to do.

Another thing is that most mental health nurses don't start out in the community, and I'm not sure what the role would be like in a hospital setting. As far as I know OT's are involved in the planning of activities, groups and care even in the first hospital setting.

I'd recommend trying to get work experience with a mental health OT, it really helped me decide which way to go with the social work/ nurse/ OT dilemma

It is down to what factors you personally like best so this is a bit biased to OT on my part! Maybe a mental health nurse can come in and give you some more information. I hope that's of some use to you, good luck making your decision
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loupgarou
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OT student here!

MHN is more the clinical side, as you are a trained nurse.
OT is more the intervention side, the holistic stuff -The new buzzword for OT is 'reenablement'...whatever that means :P
I can tell you a lot more about OT and MH if you'd like PM me.
On the NHS careers site it does give a pretty good description of each career, that might help you to make the distinction. Also the COT site is good for OT, and which ever professional body for nursing/mhn.
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Staceyc1990
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Hello

What did you decide in the end? I'm planning on doing a access course but im not sure which one to pick. they both have pro's and cons
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LouieSax
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(Original post by Staceyc1990)
Hello

What did you decide in the end? I'm planning on doing a access course but im not sure which one to pick. they both have pro's and cons
Hey Staceyc have you considered weighing up the pros vs cons of each career? Are you stuck between OT and Mental Health Nursing because if so here are some pointers of each:

- With Mental Health Nursing you are stuck with that branch of Nursing and cannot transfer between the careers whereas with OTs you can go from one specialty to another to another
- Nursing there are plenty of jobs available and even agency and the Nursing Bank so you can work a 0 hour contract, a lot more flexible whereas with OT there are less (but still quite a few) jobs available
- Mental Health Nursing you are limited to the kind of places you can work only being able to work in mental health settings whereas OT you can work in much larger range of settings
- OTs work quite nice hours whereas Nursing you have to work Christmas, nights, very early in the morning etc.
- Mental Health Nursing has more of a care aspect, carrying out specific caring roles such as washing, dressing, medication and toileting whereas OT you only assess these things and have less of a caring role compared to a nurse
I hope this helps, I'm sure you have your own list of reasons of why you want to go into each career but these may be a few you might want to consider.

Have you though about undergoing some work experience to get a feel for each career?
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Staceyc1990
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Hey

Thanks for the reply. Haha that's exactly what my pro and con list looks like. I'm really interested in mental health - things like addictions etc but I worry about doing 3 years of only mental health and then maybe finding it's too much. Some MH nurses that I know seem to love their job but they seem very stressed. The OT's I've met are quite laid back but maybe that's coincidence.

The hours are definitely pros and cons for me.. On one hand I'm probably more of a 9 till 5 type person but nurses get the opportunity to earn more money. I also worry about not finding jobs afterwards. I'm not very academic so I don't want to struggle through and then not find a OT job and end up in a similar job that I'm about to start (autism support worker)
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deviant182
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Hey!
That list sounds very negative and one sided towards mh nursing.
Not all nursing roles are long hours holidays etc. You can work in the community and may do 9-5 hours. Asides from that, you can do other courses to change branches or specialities. Many people change their career paths several times throughout their working lives and that is always an option. Please don't think that because you choose 1 you're stuck there.
Doing nursing leads to a wide variety of roles and you can become a clinical specialist, a nurse prescriber etc the list goes on.
Take a look at the NHS website which will give you more information in nursing and ot.
Are you able to talk to people who are in both careers and have been for a while rather than students or newly qualified?
Their insight may be able to give you a better idea.

Posted from TSR Mobile
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LouieSax
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(Original post by Staceyc1990)
Hey

Thanks for the reply. Haha that's exactly what my pro and con list looks like. I'm really interested in mental health - things like addictions etc but I worry about doing 3 years of only mental health and then maybe finding it's too much. Some MH nurses that I know seem to love their job but they seem very stressed. The OT's I've met are quite laid back but maybe that's coincidence.

The hours are definitely pros and cons for me.. On one hand I'm probably more of a 9 till 5 type person but nurses get the opportunity to earn more money. I also worry about not finding jobs afterwards. I'm not very academic so I don't want to struggle through and then not find a OT job and end up in a similar job that I'm about to start (autism support worker)
I mean there's no real rush to decide take your time, get some work experience in each field to help you to decide maybe you could think of trying being a support worker in more of a mental health field (although the autism support worker is also really really good) but I'm thinking it may give you a better idea of the scope of the Nursing degree in mental Health if you get me. But don't worry about it because as the poster above said if you pick one and decide it isn't for you you could always go back into the other, if you get me I mean you're a support worker so you must have a very good idea of what MH Nursing would involve. Could you imagine doing your job (with additional training such as drugs, dressing and drips) as a career?

Just compile a list of pros and cons and maybe get as much work experience under your belt as possible and research both degrees as much as you can to gain a better inside and a feel for both?
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Staceyc1990
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Thanks guys. I'll just have to do have a good think and research more.
I already have a little bit of OT experience - I went to a special needs school to shadow OT's, volunteered at riding for the disabled and visited a mental health unit to speak to a OT. So I guess I could use that for a nursing application too, I asked to speak to a nurse as well but only managed to get the OT. I do have two online friends that are MH nurses tho and they've answered some questions.

I think I can imagine myself more as a OT. I can't imagine doing drugs calculations etc.. I'm awful at maths
However there's so many more jobs as a nurse than OT. I'm from scotland but I checked the nhs England jobs and there were under 200 OT jobs that came up and then when I looked carefully some of them were physiotherapy, nursing etc that were somehow mixed in with the search. Nursing had more than double although maybe they were mixed in. Also they seem to have the opportunity to make more money through overtime, unsociable hour payments etc
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kiss_me_now9
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(Original post by LouieSax)
Hey Staceyc have you considered weighing up the pros vs cons of each career? Are you stuck between OT and Mental Health Nursing because if so here are some pointers of each:

- With Mental Health Nursing you are stuck with that branch of Nursing and cannot transfer between the careers whereas with OTs you can go from one specialty to another to another
- Nursing there are plenty of jobs available and even agency and the Nursing Bank so you can work a 0 hour contract, a lot more flexible whereas with OT there are less (but still quite a few) jobs available
- Mental Health Nursing you are limited to the kind of places you can work only being able to work in mental health settings whereas OT you can work in much larger range of settings
- OTs work quite nice hours whereas Nursing you have to work Christmas, nights, very early in the morning etc.
- Mental Health Nursing has more of a care aspect, carrying out specific caring roles such as washing, dressing, medication and toileting whereas OT you only assess these things and have less of a caring role compared to a nurse
I hope this helps, I'm sure you have your own list of reasons of why you want to go into each career but these may be a few you might want to consider.

Have you though about undergoing some work experience to get a feel for each career?
Not all of this is true, as a mental health nurse your NMC registration is counted as 'higher' than an adult nurse, so you could work in an acute adult setting with little issues (or as a health visitor, or community nurse). The registration only works this way for MHN and learning disability nurses as in theory you do a more in depth course and have more in depth knowledge.

Source - I work for the NHS in recruitment and I've hired MH nurses for health visitor and adult nursing wards.

It's not as flexible as OT, but it isn't as inflexible as this post suggests
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kiss_me_now9
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(Original post by Staceyc1990)
Thanks guys. I'll just have to do have a good think and research more.
I already have a little bit of OT experience - I went to a special needs school to shadow OT's, volunteered at riding for the disabled and visited a mental health unit to speak to a OT. So I guess I could use that for a nursing application too, I asked to speak to a nurse as well but only managed to get the OT. I do have two online friends that are MH nurses tho and they've answered some questions.

I think I can imagine myself more as a OT. I can't imagine doing drugs calculations etc.. I'm awful at maths
However there's so many more jobs as a nurse than OT. I'm from scotland but I checked the nhs England jobs and there were under 200 OT jobs that came up and then when I looked carefully some of them were physiotherapy, nursing etc that were somehow mixed in with the search. Nursing had more than double although maybe they were mixed in. Also they seem to have the opportunity to make more money through overtime, unsociable hour payments etc
If you were using NHS jobs it's because the website is crap you get better results if you filter results based on words you don't want to see.

There is a lot of emphasis on getting drugs correct, obviously, but you would be taught exactly how to do it and as a supernumerary (for a year once you qualify) you would have your work double checked. You get taught without a calculator but can use one on the wards!

Personally I've debated this with myself too - not MH nursing but adult - and I've come down heavily on the OT side for a few reasons. Firstly, a lot of the focus in nursing is on pushing people through a conveyor belt, which is the same with OT in certain settings (acute team, looking at you!) but with rehab and reenablement there's more scope to really see a positive difference. Secondly, a lot of nurses I've met seem apathetic towards their jobs - don't get me wrong, many of them who I work with are fantastic and truly care about their patients, but I've met others who just couldn't give a damn anymore. I've met many OTs and every single one has been happy to talk to me about their role and is incredibly enthusiastic. Thirdly, sadly, a lot of the time hospitals seem to work to get rid of their nursing staff and retention in nursing is horrendous; but OTs don't seem to suffer this as they want to fix the problem rather than just cover it up.
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Richierich333
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Hi all....

I've been reading through this thread and thought I'd contribute to filling in the gaps and queries...

Firstly, me...I'm a qualified mental health nurse and I've worked in a range of settings both in general psychiatry and forensic services (forensic usually means that a crime has been perpetrated and contributed to by a mental health issue)...I'm also studying the Msc accelerated pre reg OT course!
Anyway...mh nursing can be fantastic, it's varied, challenging, interesting, sometimes fun and no two days are the same...you will laugh, you will cry, you will love it and hate it in equal measure but ultimately, if your doing it right it can be extremely rewarding...you will be involved in taking care of the day to day needs of your patients both physically and mentally including risk assessment, care planning, goal setting, medication administration and become an expert in communicating, building confidence, motivational skills, a shoulder to cry on....as a new parent will take care of all of the needs of their baby, a nurse will take care of what ever needs their patient has, it maybe basic help with only a few tasks, it may be complete care from feeding to showering depending on the service and its service user...

The unique thing about mh nursing is that it often crosses over into OT and vice versa in some respects...think of it as - the nurse is helping the patient to get as well as possible in order to have the motivation to participate in OT activity 😀...mh nursing crosses over into OT from time to time as both trades have a preference in the most part, for therapeutic activity in favour of medication, or at least a combination of both!

So why am I aiming to become dual qualified...well I wish to be totally involved in the full journey of my patients from start to finish, from medication and care plans to assistance in learning new skills or occupations if you like...to be a complete mh advocate...

I love both in equal-ish measure although I'm using my OT to compliment my nursing practice if that makes sense?

In my opinion, nursing has a lot more substance to it, more responsibility and risk...if you don't mind this along with a lot of hard work then nursing is for you...if you would like to focus primarily on the every day activities we complete as humans and look at helping your patients do the very best they can at what's important to them then OT is for you...as an OT in mh you will work alongside nurses but ultimately with two very different directions.

Career wise, mh nursing jobs are plentiful with career advancement being very good...OT not so good but I'm not saying there aren't opportunities...for example one ward may have a team of 8 nurses and perhaps only 1 OT visiting the ward on set days (this is what needs changing!)...

Anyway I hope that helps...best of luck and whichever you chose, they are both wonderful jobs so rest assured that you can't go wrong!

Rich
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username1867425
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(Original post by Richierich333)
Hi all....

I've been reading through this thread and thought I'd contribute to filling in the gaps and queries...

Firstly, me...I'm a qualified mental health nurse and I've worked in a range of settings both in general psychiatry and forensic services (forensic usually means that a crime has been perpetrated and contributed to by a mental health issue)...I'm also studying the Msc accelerated pre reg OT course!
Anyway...mh nursing can be fantastic, it's varied, challenging, interesting, sometimes fun and no two days are the same...you will laugh, you will cry, you will love it and hate it in equal measure but ultimately, if your doing it right it can be extremely rewarding...you will be involved in taking care of the day to day needs of your patients both physically and mentally including risk assessment, care planning, goal setting, medication administration and become an expert in communicating, building confidence, motivational skills, a shoulder to cry on....as a new parent will take care of all of the needs of their baby, a nurse will take care of what ever needs their patient has, it maybe basic help with only a few tasks, it may be complete care from feeding to showering depending on the service and its service user...

The unique thing about mh nursing is that it often crosses over into OT and vice versa in some respects...think of it as - the nurse is helping the patient to get as well as possible in order to have the motivation to participate in OT activity 😀...mh nursing crosses over into OT from time to time as both trades have a preference in the most part, for therapeutic activity in favour of medication, or at least a combination of both!

So why am I aiming to become dual qualified...well I wish to be totally involved in the full journey of my patients from start to finish, from medication and care plans to assistance in learning new skills or occupations if you like...to be a complete mh advocate...

I love both in equal-ish measure although I'm using my OT to compliment my nursing practice if that makes sense?

In my opinion, nursing has a lot more substance to it, more responsibility and risk...if you don't mind this along with a lot of hard work then nursing is for you...if you would like to focus primarily on the every day activities we complete as humans and look at helping your patients do the very best they can at what's important to them then OT is for you...as an OT in mh you will work alongside nurses but ultimately with two very different directions.

Career wise, mh nursing jobs are plentiful with career advancement being very good...OT not so good but I'm not saying there aren't opportunities...for example one ward may have a team of 8 nurses and perhaps only 1 OT visiting the ward on set days (this is what needs changing!)...

Anyway I hope that helps...best of luck and whichever you chose, they are both wonderful jobs so rest assured that you can't go wrong!

Rich
Just wondering - do you still receive NHS bursary for your OT (MSc) as you already have used it for Nursing?
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