katyl.1989
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Hello

I am looking at going back to uni - I have developed an interest in counselling the last few years and been told it would be a really good area for me and I am interested in helping people work through there mental health issues.

However, since I was younger I have had an interest in nursing as I am quite caring and want to help people. So I am quite confused which path to take but as I am now 30 and this is my second degree I want to choose correctly.

This has left me wondering if i should go straight for counselling or for mental health nursing. I realise mental health nursing is quite different but I feel is combines helping people with mental health and nursing. If I’m being completely honest, no matter how much I read or attend uni open days I don’t completely understand what a mental health nurse does - is it just the same as nursing but for people with mental health or do you get the chance to help people with their mental health also?

Any advise would be appreciated.

Thank you!
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moosec
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Hi, student mental health nurse here

So, Mental Health Nurses build therapeutic relationships with patients and deliver evidence-based therapeutic practices (possibly including CBT), assess patients' needs, administer medication, work with a multi-disciplinary team and plan & implement care to support a patients' goals for their mental health/ whatever recovery means to them.
There many different routes/ areas to work in for a mental health nurse, so your responsibilities will vary depending on where you work, but regardless of which area you work in, patient-centred care and communication is at the very forefront of what we do
For example, right now I'm on placement with a Community Mental Health & Recovery Team, and the nurses there offer individual therapy and CBT.
Before I was a MH Nursing Student, I was a patient. I was inspired to become a MH Nurse because it was the nurses (and Healthcare Assistants) who were always around, supported me through the highs & lows and made a real difference to my recovery. So from a patients perspective as well as a student nurse's, yes - we definitely get the chance to help people with their mental health too

As mental health nurses, we do all sorts... we do 'nursey' clinical things like giving psychiatric meds & writing care plans, but we also sit with patients, make a brew/play a game with them and have a chat if they're struggling, work with them on distraction techniques, hold their hands & be there for them if they're in crisis, work with them on an individual or group basis providing therapeutic support etc etc


I considered a counselling degree before choosing nursing as it really interested me too, and went to a lot of counselling open days. I found there to be quite a lot of overlaps with regards to the more communication-based aspects of MH Nursing, but I suppose MH Nursing is more hands-on/practical/ in some cases more clinical than counselling. Guess it comes down to what you prefer! One of the reasons I picked MH Nursing was because I was put off by the fact that there's massive competition for full-time work as a counsellor and most counsellors work part-time/ voluntarily :/
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Mikesparling
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(Original post by moosec)
Hi, student mental health nurse here

So, Mental Health Nurses build therapeutic relationships with patients and deliver evidence-based therapeutic practices (possibly including CBT), assess patients' needs, administer medication, work with a multi-disciplinary team and plan & implement care to support a patients' goals for their mental health/ whatever recovery means to them.
There many different routes/ areas to work in for a mental health nurse, so your responsibilities will vary depending on where you work, but regardless of which area you work in, patient-centred care and communication is at the very forefront of what we do
For example, right now I'm on placement with a Community Mental Health & Recovery Team, and the nurses there offer individual therapy and CBT.
Before I was a MH Nursing Student, I was a patient. I was inspired to become a MH Nurse because it was the nurses (and Healthcare Assistants) who were always around, supported me through the highs & lows and made a real difference to my recovery. So from a patients perspective as well as a student nurse's, yes - we definitely get the chance to help people with their mental health too

As mental health nurses, we do all sorts... we do 'nursey' clinical things like giving psychiatric meds & writing care plans, but we also sit with patients, make a brew/play a game with them and have a chat if they're struggling, work with them on distraction techniques, hold their hands & be there for them if they're in crisis, work with them on an individual or group basis providing therapeutic support etc etc


I considered a counselling degree before choosing nursing as it really interested me too, and went to a lot of counselling open days. I found there to be quite a lot of overlaps with regards to the more communication-based aspects of MH Nursing, but I suppose MH Nursing is more hands-on/practical/ in some cases more clinical than counselling. Guess it comes down to what you prefer! One of the reasons I picked MH Nursing was because I was put off by the fact that there's massive competition for full-time work as a counsellor and most counsellors work part-time/ voluntarily :/
Hi there! I’m a career changer hoping to start an MSc in Mental Health Nursing next September! I wanted to ask: how much ‘personal care’ i.e. bathing/washing patients, changing beds etc do Mental Health Nurses engage in, or is that reserves more for Healthcare Assistants? I imagine it varies somewhat on the setting? Also, what do Mental Health Nurses tend to wear in terms of uniform? I hear on the one hand that the NHS moved away from nurse uniforms for MHN’s, but read elsewhere that actually that isn’t the case. I guess that once again it depends on the clinical setting. Thanks!
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Mikesparling
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(Original post by katyl.1989)
Hello

I am looking at going back to uni - I have developed an interest in counselling the last few years and been told it would be a really good area for me and I am interested in helping people work through there mental health issues.

However, since I was younger I have had an interest in nursing as I am quite caring and want to help people. So I am quite confused which path to take but as I am now 30 and this is my second degree I want to choose correctly.

This has left me wondering if i should go straight for counselling or for mental health nursing. I realise mental health nursing is quite different but I feel is combines helping people with mental health and nursing. If I’m being completely honest, no matter how much I read or attend uni open days I don’t completely understand what a mental health nurse does - is it just the same as nursing but for people with mental health or do you get the chance to help people with their mental health also?

Any advise would be appreciated.

Thank you!
Hi! Presumably there would be nothing stopping you become a mental health nurse and then studying a BACP approved counselling/psychotherapy course so that you could also practice as a counsellor e.g. privately part time. Best of both worlds!
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moosec
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(Original post by Mikesparling)
Hi there! I’m a career changer hoping to start an MSc in Mental Health Nursing next September! I wanted to ask: how much ‘personal care’ i.e. bathing/washing patients, changing beds etc do Mental Health Nurses engage in, or is that reserves more for Healthcare Assistants? I imagine it varies somewhat on the setting? Also, what do Mental Health Nurses tend to wear in terms of uniform? I hear on the one hand that the NHS moved away from nurse uniforms for MHN’s, but read elsewhere that actually that isn’t the case. I guess that once again it depends on the clinical setting. Thanks!
Regarding personal care & bed changing etc... you are, of course, taught all of these things as they’re the basic skills every nurse needs to know & are incredibly important. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily reserved more for HCAs... nobody likes a nurse who’s ‘too posh to wash’ so nurses get stuck in with these tasks too, but as you say, the frequency of actually doing these tasks in practice varies depending on the setting.
Uniform wise, again it varies depending on the setting. Usually community settings are smart-casual (non-uniform), and quite a lot of inpatient settings wear uniforms. You’ll be given a university uniform, and a few weeks prior to placement when you contact your allocated placement area, you’ll usually ask what the dress code is then
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moosec
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(Original post by Mikesparling)
Hi! Presumably there would be nothing stopping you become a mental health nurse and then studying a BACP approved counselling/psychotherapy course so that you could also practice as a counsellor e.g. privately part time. Best of both worlds!
Yes, that’s quite a common route to go down!
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Mikesparling
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(Original post by moosec)
Regarding personal care & bed changing etc... you are, of course, taught all of these things as they’re the basic skills every nurse needs to know & are incredibly important. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily reserved more for HCAs... nobody likes a nurse who’s ‘too posh to wash’ so nurses get stuck in with these tasks too, but as you say, the frequency of actually doing these tasks in practice varies depending on the setting.
Uniform wise, again it varies depending on the setting. Usually community settings are smart-casual (non-uniform), and quite a lot of inpatient settings wear uniforms. You’ll be given a university uniform, and a few weeks prior to placement when you contact your allocated placement area, you’ll usually ask what the dress code is then
Thank you so much! I’m not sure how much you know about funding, particularly given that funding in England has changed very recently. My understanding however is that for a postgraduate pre-registration course (such as MSc Mental Health Nursing) I would actually be eligible for undergraduate finance (both tuition fee loan and maintenance support). In addition there are the ‘new’ bursaries (5k plus). Is that your understanding too? Thanks again
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moosec
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(Original post by Mikesparling)
Thank you so much! I’m not sure how much you know about funding, particularly given that funding in England has changed very recently. My understanding however is that for a postgraduate pre-registration course (such as MSc Mental Health Nursing) I would actually be eligible for undergraduate finance (both tuition fee loan and maintenance support). In addition there are the ‘new’ bursaries (5k plus). Is that your understanding too? Thanks again
You get full tuition & maintenance loan funding for a second Undergraduate degree in Nursing. Nursing is classed as an exception course by Student Finance England I wasn’t too sure about Postgraduate study (as after completing my first undergrad degree I then opted for the Bachelors in Nursing rather than the Masters)... but after a quick research, it would appear that you’d be eligible for tuition fee & maintenance loan funding for MSc Nursing too


The new NHS Training Grants (be careful not to confuse them with the Bursary which is a different thing) are £5,000 yearly (non-repayable!) and there’s a £1,000 Specialist Subject Payment for Mental Health Nursing. So you should be eligible for £6,000... possibly more if you have child dependents also.
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Mikesparling
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On funding, that confirms what I had suspected, so thanks very much!
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persephone_
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You have been given some absolutely fab input above, I just wanted to also chime in and say that as someone in a similar position (passionate about mental health, studied counselling skills up to just above level 2, thought I wanted to become a counsellor), the past six months have definitely lead me more into MH Nursing for a few reasons:

- Security and versatility - MH nursing sounds like I would still very much get to use the skills I so much enjoyed when I was learning about counselling and doing skills practice sessions. The difference is that most counsellors I have spoken to stress that there's lots of competition for roles, with full time, permanent ones few and far between even at the best of times. Albeit some have said they didn't have any issues and haven't even in the current climate, but everyone I know who is a nurse is absolutely singing the praises of the amount of jobs there are to be found, and the security you can usually expect once you find somewhere you like.
- Potential for serious, tangible change for patients - whichever way you slice it, according to nurses I've spoken to, there's much more capacity to make real material changes to your patients' lives and challenges with MH nursing. Of course counsellors can do this, but as a counsellor your job is, in the simplest sense, just to listen and help patients understand what they want. MH nurses do that, but also seem to have more opportunity to initiate real change through more areas of a patient's care.
- Opportunities for continued development - counselling demands this, of course, but I felt that a MH nurse likely has more employer-funded opportunities to undertake additional training/specialisation than a counsellor. MH nurses I know have also been able to progress up the pay scale more quickly, and thus had more financial opportunity to undertake their own further training privately if they so wish (e.g., counselling diplomas if, for some reason, your employer won't sponsor this).
- Potential long term to move into counselling - if you're a MH nurse who has been delivering therapeutic interventions like CBT as part of your job, I'd wager that, even if you somehow didn't have qualifications to the same standard as a counsellor, you'd have an infinitely easier time going and getting other jobs that are perhaps more similar to 'just' counselling than vice versa!

For me I was passionate about what studying counselling skills enabled me to do for others - but ultimately MH nursing sounds like I definitely wouldn't get bored any time soon (I might as a counsellor), would likely have more secure roles readily open to me, and could still branch more easily into working only as a therapist/counsellor later on if I wanted. It really seems like, if it interests you, it could be the best of both worlds, with plenty of room to specialise and find a role that suits you and your interests (CAMHS, community nursing, etc).
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