2060
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Hi there,

I am interested in Mental Health Nursing, and have researched the role as much as possible, but still have some questions about certain details.

Some background info: I originally planned to study Psychology with a view to working in Psychotherapy or Clinical Psychology later on. This route is notoriously competitive, and would take a very long time to break into the profession, if at all. I noticed that many postgrad programs for Psychotherapy training (CBT, Family Therapy, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, etc) stipulate a 'core profession' as a pre-requisite for entry onto the course. The core professions are Mental Health Nursing, Social Work and OT. Further research led me to consider Mental Health Nursing as a possible route into this kind of work. It seems a varied and interesting career in its own right too, with opportunities for progression.

The medical model that nursing often subscribes to puts me off a little, particularly the thought of having to administer depot injections and drugs to patients. This is the only side of mental health nursing that doesn't fit to well with my values (holistic and humane care, and medication as a last resort since mental illness is so often the result of traumatic experiences in earlier life). I understand that medication can provide relief for some people, but I think people should have better access to other means of support such as therapy and social support, since this can address the root of the problem and cut the chain of dependency on medication to alleviate symptoms, and by extension mental health services.

If anyone could give me some more insight into Mental Health Nursing as a profession, the role and responsibilities, I would be so grateful! And likewise, if anyone works in the field of Mental Health Social Work and could shed some light on their role, that would be very welcome.

Many thanks in advance
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LuigiMario
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Talking to a couple of professors of psychology, seems that the BA/BSc ((1)depending on how much fMRI is studied, basically?) is a great degree.
The Master is useful, but as you say, you need the PhD to make a great career (unless helpful TSR people can tell more)

At one openday, one prof said (paraphrasing) we actively discourage PhD study until the student has left uni, gone away and done something/anything for at least a decade. Just to understand life, was how she put it.
RMN, my tall, hefty, brother is one. He likes it, he is occasionally beaten-up, which isn't so good. That might impinge on your ideas about the meds - RRR would be great - but....He has a lot of work, tho' last year his NHS hospital was merged/closed something ready for sale to the USA or whatever- so he became bank Nurse, and still had lot of work. I haven't seen him during covid.

Can't you just do general nursing, then convert/specialise to mental health, if you like that path? Nursing is a great degree, you'd quickly find out in the practical months if it's the sort of thing that you could do, and enjoy. You'd be able to take many many courses within the NHS (whilst it's still British, hopefully that's all on pause) Scotland even pays a bursary and fees , and expenses for the hospital work, and England might give some of that?

In USA, Psychology is the no.1 Major, allegedly, but simply because they students haven't worked out what to do, so default = basic psychology.
You seem to have a much clearer idea, talk to a Psychology Professor or two. The Psych prof at Warwick, and the American psych Prof at Stirling were incredibly helpful, (probably more BA tho')

((1)The biggest impact on reducing, refining, replacing meds would seem to come from those research universities who have their own functional magnetic resonance machine, for use with brain imaging with radioisotope labelled drugs, for example. That's why it's BSc - as is a bit more hardware/psycho-neurology based than the BA, in my opinion, an engineer! I think BSc Psychology has a massive future, perhaps even rewriting the imprecise-rulebooks for BA psychology, no disrespect meant - but real-live Brain imaging is so 2050's, whilst the "does CBT work" studies are more 1850's? IMHO
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2060
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Thanks for your reply LuigiMario, interesting ideas you raise. Have you studied Psychology?
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LuigiMario
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No, (it parenthetically would’ve helped me enormously) simply took my friend to Warwick Open-day to study English, and we accidentally went to the wrong presentation! The BA degree presentation was fascinating.

I are engineer, but after making antimatter for a few years I downgraded accelerators from a nice big168 metres circumference to just a 3 metre cyclotron. I then made rather a lot of radioisotope medicines daily, for years, often starting at 4am, to get the isotopes to the hospitals in Milan - for when the patients started to arrive. Some of my iodine production disappeared naturally in hours, so had to be well planned.

As I attended nuclear med conferences in Denmark & Heidelberg, over the years, I saw the rise of glucose labelled by isotope. Hence we are apparently at the start of understanding the brain - which is fuelled by glucose, led by those unis who have full access to tomorrow’s tech.
(I did install an FDG lab at work, basically 4 laptops & a bit of nuclear microwave freezer size tech, ¹⁸F-FDG is a fluorine radiopharmaceutical which we used in PET & SPECT scanners)

Took another friend to Stirling & Napier & UWS & Dundee (Kirkcaldy campus) for Nursing open-days, 4 unis in 2 days was a bit rushed, but I did ‘sus’ out/grilled the Stirling Psych dept, asking a million questions, which they were happy to return.
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That is really interesting what you do. I just came back from an internship in Mantova acutally in refugee integration and now I am wondering in which direction to move, hence these questions.

Do you think of studying Psychology and moving into that field?
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LuigiMario
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The social/sociological side of psychology would fascinate me, I’ve got a demanding job/hobby so I might finish an OU degree, or at least psych modules. The Cambridge Analytica Facebook attack & Brxit was quite psychologically nudged, it’d be nice to follow that - but in Warwick I could see that although political manipulation is beyond a BA in Psychology, it’s a good start.

For you, work wise, a short nursing course could be interesting to ‘bank’. It’s hard to plan a career, they sometimes just happen! I briefly dated a young lady who was “a secretary”, and now she’s Deputy Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe at the UN Refugee Agency,. I checked their website, and you normally apply through your local national administration.
https://www.unhcr.org/junior-profess...programme.html

Looking at nursing, as a stepping-stone, maybe? It’s skilled hard work, of portable universal benefit. In USA you can take conversion course to a medical doctor, not in UK. But you’re already multi-cultural, intern in Mantua, posting on UK uni oracle, so you can certainly get to where you want to go, I just mention Geneva as I have playfully sat in the chair of the High Commissioner for Refugees. Europe had a meeting today, and couldn’t yet settle an agreed policy, so situation will be chaotic for a further while.

Have fun, keep reading/planning, fill in forms,
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2060
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(Original post by LuigiMario)
The social/sociological side of psychology would fascinate me, I’ve got a demanding job/hobby so I might finish an OU degree, or at least psych modules. The Cambridge Analytica Facebook attack & Brxit was quite psychologically nudged, it’d be nice to follow that - but in Warwick I could see that although political manipulation is beyond a BA in Psychology, it’s a good start.

For you, work wise, a short nursing course could be interesting to ‘bank’. It’s hard to plan a career, they sometimes just happen! I briefly dated a young lady who was “a secretary”, and now she’s Deputy Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe at the UN Refugee Agency,. I checked their website, and you normally apply through your local national administration.
https://www.unhcr.org/junior-profess...programme.html

Looking at nursing, as a stepping-stone, maybe? It’s skilled hard work, of portable universal benefit. In USA you can take conversion course to a medical doctor, not in UK. But you’re already multi-cultural, intern in Mantua, posting on UK uni oracle, so you can certainly get to where you want to go, I just mention Geneva as I have playfully sat in the chair of the High Commissioner for Refugees. Europe had a meeting today, and couldn’t yet settle an agreed policy, so situation will be chaotic for a further while.

Have fun, keep reading/planning, fill in forms,
Thanks Luigi for that link, it looks really interesting. You too, enjoy what you do and keep up with your interest in Psychology
All the best
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Free81
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(Original post by LuigiMario)
No, (it parenthetically would’ve helped me enormously) simply took my friend to Warwick Open-day to study English, and we accidentally went to the wrong presentation! The BA degree presentation was fascinating.

I are engineer, but after making antimatter for a few years I downgraded accelerators from a nice big168 metres circumference to just a 3 metre cyclotron. I then made rather a lot of radioisotope medicines daily, for years, often starting at 4am, to get the isotopes to the hospitals in Milan - for when the patients started to arrive. Some of my iodine production disappeared naturally in hours, so had to be well planned.

As I attended nuclear med conferences in Denmark & Heidelberg, over the years, I saw the rise of glucose labelled by isotope. Hence we are apparently at the start of understanding the brain - which is fuelled by glucose, led by those unis who have full access to tomorrow’s tech.
(I did install an FDG lab at work, basically 4 laptops & a bit of nuclear microwave freezer size tech, ¹⁸F-FDG is a fluorine radiopharmaceutical which we used in PET & SPECT scanners)

Took another friend to Stirling & Napier & UWS & Dundee (Kirkcaldy campus) for Nursing open-days, 4 unis in 2 days was a bit rushed, but I did ‘sus’ out/grilled the Stirling Psych dept, asking a million questions, which they were happy to return.
Luigi, I didn't understand hardly any of that, but I just wanted to say that you sound like a fascinating person!
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moosec
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Speaking as a Student Mental Health Nurse, the role of a MH Nurse varies hugely depending on which area you’re in: ‘mental health nurse’ is a broad term but roles are often specialised. For instance, MH Nurses can work in: Forensic Mental Health, Acute Care, CAMHS (Children & Adolescents), Substance Misuse, Low Secure, Medium Secure, High Secure, Eating Disorders Specialist Units, Personality Disorders Specialist Units, Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT), Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Teams, the list goes on. As you can imagine, day to day responsibilities vary hugely depending on your role.

Typically, roles for mental health nurses may involve care planning, talking to patients, therapeutic approaches, clinical duties such as obs and meds, Multi-Disciplinary Team meetings, generally being at the forefront of patient care and support.

To become a psychologist or psychotherapist, honestly you’d be better off doing a more conventional route into it. For psychology, that’s usually an undergraduate Psychology degree, followed by work experience and postgraduate study (a Doctorate for Clinical Psychology.) To become a psychotherapist, you’d be best to do a degree in Psychology or Counselling & Psychotherapy or similar, then complete a postgraduate course accredited by the UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy) as well as the 450hrs of practice required to register with the UKCP.
Mental Health Nursing is a degree tailored specifically to becoming an NMC-registered MH Nurse, it doesn’t usually offer much of a stepping stone or advantage to applying for other career fields.
I think it’s likely that the postgrad courses saying you need a current healthcare registration are Conversion courses. Most MSc Clinical Psychology or PhD Clinical Psychology courses just require a related degree to that field, such as psychology (use UCAS Search to have a browse.)

In Nursing, you specialise when you choose your course... you either apply to Adult, Child, Learning Disabilities or Mental Health Nursing (with a small number of uni’s offering Dual-Field courses.) Once qualified, apparently Conversion courses between fields exist however they’re elusive and few-and-far-between so it’s always best to choose the field you want to work in straight off the bat when applying. Financially, placement is unpaid (in England) and the Tories scrapped our bursary back in 2017, however a new Training Grant has just been implemented towards living costs. Mental Health Nursing courses are 3 years long, covering a wide range of topics including: Anatomy & Physiology, Pharmacology, Nursing Ethics & Law (for MH that’s a lot of Mental Health Law etc), Therapeutic Approaches & Psychological Approaches, Clinical Skills, Nursing Principles & Practice etc.
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2060
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Hey Moosec,I really appreciate your reply. I think the main pull towards Mental Health Nursing or Social Work comes from the competition and expense involved in Psychotherapy training or Clinical Psychology. And as I said, it is an interesting role in it's own right, which would give me the chance to work directly with patients suffering from mental illness, learning from this experience with a view towards undertaking Psychotherapeutic training. Are there other people on your course that have similar plans or trajectories? And, if you don't mind me asking, what stirred your decision to study Mental Health Nursing? It's invaluable to be able to speak to you about this, since you actually practise in the field! Thank you so much!
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moosec
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(Original post by 2060)
Hey Moosec,I really appreciate your reply. I think the main pull towards Mental Health Nursing or Social Work comes from the competition and expense involved in Psychotherapy training or Clinical Psychology. And as I said, it is an interesting role in it's own right, which would give me the chance to work directly with patients suffering from mental illness, learning from this experience with a view towards undertaking Psychotherapeutic training. Are there other people on your course that have similar plans or trajectories? And, if you don't mind me asking, what stirred your decision to study Mental Health Nursing? It's invaluable to be able to speak to you about this, since you actually practise in the field! Thank you so much!
Absolutely, both Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy are very competitive and require many years in training before qualification. But they're not impossible; usually your undergrad and/or MSc will point you in the right direction of (or in certain circumstances organise) relevant work experience which sets you up well for acceptance onto your further study/employment. Maybe chat to some uni's about their pathways into these fields?
In certain roles of Mental Health Nursing, it is possible to take on more of a role of a therapist (these roles will often come with extra training in areas such as CBT etc) so it's not an impossible career aspiration should you choose MH Nursing, albeit less common than other roles. On my course, I don't think so - I think some are wanting to work in CAMHS, some in Perinatal MH, some in secure settings etc. Personally (I'm only first year so this may change as I experience more placements) I'm aspiring to work in an Acute inpatient setting.
I chose Mental Health Nursing because I have lived experience of mental health conditions, spending quite a lot of time in hospital in the past. In my experience, I saw loads of professionals who came in and out of the ward, but it was the MH Nurses who were always there at the forefront of my care and really made a difference to my recovery.
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(Original post by moosec)
Absolutely, both Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy are very competitive and require many years in training before qualification. But they're not impossible; usually your undergrad and/or MSc will point you in the right direction of (or in certain circumstances organise) relevant work experience which sets you up well for acceptance onto your further study/employment. Maybe chat to some uni's about their pathways into these fields?
In certain roles of Mental Health Nursing, it is possible to take on more of a role of a therapist (these roles will often come with extra training in areas such as CBT etc) so it's not an impossible career aspiration should you choose MH Nursing, albeit less common than other roles. On my course, I don't think so - I think some are wanting to work in CAMHS, some in Perinatal MH, some in secure settings etc. Personally (I'm only first year so this may change as I experience more placements) I'm aspiring to work in an Acute inpatient setting.
I chose Mental Health Nursing because I have lived experience of mental health conditions, spending quite a lot of time in hospital in the past. In my experience, I saw loads of professionals who came in and out of the ward, but it was the MH Nurses who were always there at the forefront of my care and really made a difference to my recovery.
Thank you again. The insight you have acquired through lived experience is probably the richest you can have and I can imagine how you could draw on it as a Mental Health Nurse, to help others towards their recovery. One last question, if you don't mind (since you are so helpful!).. how medically oriented is the training you do? I mean, I know medication administration makes up a part of the role, but how significant is that in relation to the other things that you do?
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I trained as a general nurse, and later did specialist MH qualifications and worked both as a freelance child therapist and in a couple of NHS Primary Mental Health Teams. Reflecting on MH Nursing v Clinical Psychology:

In the PMHTs, we were often the first contact with MH services and saw the reality of peoples' lives. It was very varied; child protection panels, youth clubs, 1:1 and parent:child sessions etc. As nurses, we got a large caseload and little choice in who we saw. But we could offer flexibility to our clients (eg home visits, a variety of therapies). We rarely did medications (depot injections were often done in the local mental health unit). Our Clinical Psychs had lower caseloads, quite a lot of choice over who they worked with, and required people to come to them. And were better paid. CPs were definitely from a particular social mileau (!) and very female dominated.

Obviously, we nurses thought we were best , with better relationships with our patients and a more practical outlook. The CPs often looked like they struggled to connect with people somehow. I honestly don't think their role was as varied or as interesting as ours, and the intellectual and emotional challenge of community nursing is every bit as significant. We used to groan whenever a new CP arrived to offer "support" but then said, "but I can't actually *see any patients* - I can only offer supervision" In fact, our experience and expertise was usually greater than theirs. Only the payscale didn't show it! But we did have to absorb a lot of the strain of increasing waiting lists and "new intiatives" >eyeroll<

I would stress there are many different kinds of roles available within MH. I adored my CPMHT jobs. But I did my best work as a freelance, when I could decide what my clients needed rather than be limited by bureaucratic constraints.
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Well thank you!

It's so interesting to hear people's different perspectives and experiences. I can imagine that the sheer breadth of experience that Mental Health Nursing entails would give you more insight into the different needs of the people you work with. I suppose it would also train your sense of intuition, which is not something you can learn through formal academic study (as in Clinical Psychology)
I am inclined to go through with a vocational postgrad training in either Social Work or Mental Health Nursing because I don't know how much confidence I have in the statistics oriented Psychology route.

My one concern (with Psychiatric Nursing) is the medication administration which I think would make me quite uncomfortable. (I have seen the adverse affects that heavily-medicated patients present with and I don't find this so called cost effective, short lived solution very ethical- but that is just my take on it)
Anyway, I have ordered a book called 'The Art and Science of Mental Health Nursing' which I'm hoping will sway me in one direction or another! Let's see.
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(Original post by 2060)
Well thank you!

It's so interesting to hear people's different perspectives and experiences. I can imagine that the sheer breadth of experience that Mental Health Nursing entails would give you more insight into the different needs of the people you work with. I suppose it would also train your sense of intuition, which is not something you can learn through formal academic study (as in Clinical Psychology)
I am inclined to go through with a vocational postgrad training in either Social Work or Mental Health Nursing because I don't know how much confidence I have in the statistics oriented Psychology route.

My one concern (with Psychiatric Nursing) is the medication administration which I think would make me quite uncomfortable. (I have seen the adverse affects that heavily-medicated patients present with and I don't find this so called cost effective, short lived solution very ethical- but that is just my take on it)
Anyway, I have ordered a book called 'The Art and Science of Mental Health Nursing' which I'm hoping will sway me in one direction or another! Let's see.
After general nurse training, I spent time in the NGO sector and returned to nursing only after I had put together a kind of dream job in my head. With that in my head, I wandered into a local bookshop and saw, "Case Studies in Non Directive Play Therapy" and spookily, even before I'd read it, I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to do! I chose my further mental health/psychotherapy training to get me there. The clearer the vision you have, the easier it is.

Meanwhile, keep your options open and stick to your principles - it's suprising how a good arguement from a point of principle can change things.
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(Original post by 2060)
Thank you again. The insight you have acquired through lived experience is probably the richest you can have and I can imagine how you could draw on it as a Mental Health Nurse, to help others towards their recovery. One last question, if you don't mind (since you are so helpful!).. how medically oriented is the training you do? I mean, I know medication administration makes up a part of the role, but how significant is that in relation to the other things that you do?
I hope so! I’d like to think my experience of services has shaped the nurse I’ll become! Of course, ask as many questions as you’d like!
The course is quite medically oriented in the sense that you cover a lot of clinical skills; most uni’s have simulation wards and such. That does include practical medication administration (on dummies of course, you don’t have to inject your classmates or anything😉) but other nursing skills as well such as bedside manner, personal care, basic life support etc (the sorts of things every nurse from every field should know.) But I think the course is overall quite well-rounded with regards to its balance on psychological/pharmacological training.
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(Original post by moosec)
I hope so! I’d like to think my experience of services has shaped the nurse I’ll become! Of course, ask as many questions as you’d like!
The course is quite medically oriented in the sense that you cover a lot of clinical skills; most uni’s have simulation wards and such. That does include practical medication administration (on dummies of course, you don’t have to inject your classmates or anything😉) but other nursing skills as well such as bedside manner, personal care, basic life support etc (the sorts of things every nurse from every field should know.) But I think the course is overall quite well-rounded with regards to its balance on psychological/pharmacological training.
Thank you! It's so incredibly helpful to hear your perspective. I wish you all the best in your studies and future career.
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(Original post by OxFossil)
After general nurse training, I spent time in the NGO sector and returned to nursing only after I had put together a kind of dream job in my head. With that in my head, I wandered into a local bookshop and saw, "Case Studies in Non Directive Play Therapy" and spookily, even before I'd read it, I suddenly knew exactly what I wanted to do! I chose my further mental health/psychotherapy training to get me there. The clearer the vision you have, the easier it is.

Meanwhile, keep your options open and stick to your principles - it's suprising how a good arguement from a point of principle can change things.
That must have been such a good feeling, to have that idea come to you like that! It sounds so interesting, what you ended up doing and I can imagine how nursing could give you a solid platform from which to develop the skills you drew on later. Thank you for sharing, I shall take note!
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