Nursing Awards: a truly global mental health practitioner of our times
Meet João Marçal-Grilo, the inspirational winner of the Mental Health Nursing category of the RCN Nursing Awards 2021
‘Jaya’ means victory in Hindi. A stroke of serendipity then that Jaya Mental Health is the name of the charity founded by João Marçal-Grilo, winner of the Mental Health Nursing category of the RCN Nursing Awards 2021.
Mr Marçal-Grilo is an inspirational mental health nurse who combines his passion for challenging health and social inequalities with a global outlook. While volunteering in a small hospital in Varanasi, northern India, he saw not only how common and debilitating mental ill health was in South Asia, but also how little support was available for people with few mental health professionals.
Sustainable training and mutual mental healthcare support
He launched Jaya Mental Health in 2014 to link communities of nurses worldwide to access sustainable training and mutual support, with the aim of improving mental healthcare in their communities. For example, training local staff to provide talking and art therapies at a trauma centre for trafficked children in Kathmandu, Nepal, and establishing mental health walk-in clinics in a mountainous area of the country that saw 76% of service users reporting they felt valuable after six months of treatment.
This summer a major project has seen nurses allocated to schools across Nepal, many in rural communities where they may be the only qualified healthcare professionals children, parents and teachers can access.
Looking beyond the pandemic in community, primary, secondary and online care settings
Awards judge and RCN professional lead for mental health Stephen Jones describes this year’s finalists as ‘fantastic’.
With projects that respond to and look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic in community, primary, secondary care and even online settings, our finalists embody the innovations in practice that the awards seek to celebrate.
And they are united by the recognition that life-affirming mental healthcare begins by ensuring that nurses themselves are proactively supported and trained to provide it.
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Lisa Berry is joint editor of Mental Health Practice