Nursing unity can help bridge mental health gap
By working together, mental health nurses can be a powerful voice in the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife
By working together, mental health nurses can be a powerful voice in the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, says the president of the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses
Poor mental health is a significant problem worldwide. It negatively and significantly affects world economies by accounting for many days lost to disability .
At the same time, services to address the needs of individuals with mental health concerns have a greater disparity in terms of availability than those for physical health issues.
In low-, middle- and high-resource settings, governments, care organisations and individual care professionals struggle to identify how best to use their limited resources to address this growing problem.
Barriers to nursing’s capacity to address mental health needs
Many overlook how nursing can bridge the gap. Nursing constitutes the largest healthcare workforce group in the world and nurses interact with individuals and populations in many varied settings. Nurses also intimately know the challenges to their mental health and well-being.
Even with this insight, there are significant barriers to using nursing’s capacity to address mental health needs. These challenges include education, policy and power.
More than ever, in this, the World Health Organization’s International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, these challenges require innovation to better meet the needs of individuals experiencing poor mental health. Each of these challenges can be addressed through collaborative efforts, and the potential that this collaboration has to enact change and meet the needs of this underserved population is limited only by imagination.
The International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses (ISPN) is a mental health speciality organisation established in the US in 1999. ISPN now has about 400 members all over the world and its mission is to:
- Unite and strengthen the presence and voice of specialty psychiatric and mental health nurses.
- Enhance their ability to work collaboratively within nursing and interprofessionally.
- Provide expanded opportunities for networking and leadership development to make care more equitable and influence healthcare policies.
To unite and strengthen the presence and voice of specialty nurses, ISPN continues to champion opportunities for partnership. Most recently, for example, the society worked with the RCN and Mental Health Nurse Academics UK by supporting their 25th International Mental Health Nursing Research Conference in London.
An opportunity to strengthen the power of nursing
This event has been a great beginning towards a collaboration that involves multicultural education and the discussion of policy issues that affect role, functioning and leadership among mental health nurses. It also provided a vision of how mental health nurses could join together and use this unity as a powerful voice to advocate for the profession and for those we serve.
As current ISPN president, my challenge is to grow this vision and invite others to grow with us in the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and to join our efforts to raise the voice of mental health nursing in all its forms.
The benefits of partnership are many, but most importantly it offers an opportunity to strengthen the power of nursing and give it a united voice, thereby improving mental health outcomes for individuals, populations and communities.
Vicki Hines-Martin is president of the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses
Find out more