Mental health nursing: education revamp is boost to profession

In a 'defining moment' in mental health nursing, a revamp of psychosocial interventions education is set to improve the nurse/patient therapeutic relationship

A man smiling contentedly as he sits and has a conversation with another man
Picture: iStock

Mental health nurses continue to recognise psychosocial interventions as one of the top priorities for the profession as well as for patients, service users and their families.

In 2022 Health Education England published its review of mental health nursing Commitment and Growth: Advancing Mental Health Nursing Now and for the Future.

Recommendations two and three of the review emphasise the importance of mental health nurses giving priority to enhancing therapeutic relationships, valuing experiential knowledge and identifying core skills across all practice settings and age groups.

Mental health nurses and students lack education in therapeutic interventions

The Nursing and Midwifery Council's Future Nurse: Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses also outlines the significance of evidence-based communication and therapeutic interventions being part of every nurse’s repertoire.

However, a 2023 RCN survey revealed that students and registered mental health nurses lack education in therapeutic interventions and require high-quality learning opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills.

Mental health nursing lacks career development through clinical roles, especially at the enhanced level of practice.

One reason for this is that mental health nursing is often challenging to define and lacks a universally agreed evidence base, often leading to a misunderstanding of our role and capabilities.

Therefore, actively promoting the profession and ensuring mental health nurses receive the necessary career development opportunities is crucial.

RCN commissioned to revamp psychosocial interventions education

Currently, there is no nationally recognised programme to improve the therapeutic relationship in the context of psychosocial interventions. However, this is about to change.

After two years of listening to and engaging with grassroots and senior nurse leaders and people with lived experience using services, the RCN has been commissioned by NHS England to revamp psychosocial interventions education which was last delivered in the early 2000s.

This exciting profession-defining programme will be specially designed for post-preceptorship mental health nurses towards an enhanced level of practice, with the first cohorts starting in mid 2024.

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