Celebrating Mental Health Nurses Day
Today, 21st February, social media is celebrating the remarkable and often challenging work of our mental health nurses across the UK. We asked David Munday, Lead Professional Officer for Mental Health at Unite the Union about the impact of the #MHNursesDay campaign and why we should be highlighting the work of our front line staff.
"Early in 2018 I had lots of conversations with mental health nurses. The message I got loud and clear was how much they loved their job but how difficult they were finding it. Since 2010 we had seen thousands of mental health nurses leave the NHS and not be replaced, local authorities have had big cuts to their budgets, meaning non-NHS services have disappeared and personal finances being put under increasing strain. As well as impacting on mental health nurses themselves, this has had dramatic effects on the people they desperately want to care for.
On social media as well, they could see lots of people talk about how they weren’t getting the right support from their mental health nurses and this was having a negative impact on their morale day to day. They also saw initiatives in other professions, like the Royal College of Psychiatrists excellent #ChoosePsychiatry campaign, which has seen positive results. They wanted to know where their campaign was.
That’s why at the Mental Health Nurses Association, we developed #MHnursingFuture. This has asked mental health nurses, and their supporters, to share the positive messages about mental health nursing. Since we started we’ve published over 80.
At MHNA we’re also partners in the Mental Health Nursing Expert Advisory Group and through this we’re supporting the Royal College of Nursing Mental Health Forums #MHnursesDay. It’s another brilliant opportunity to shout loud and proud about our belief that mental health nurses are amazing and they make a huge difference to people’s lives.
Looking beyond today’s celebration, I was hopeful that the #NHSLongTermPlan would offer some concrete steps about how the tide would be turned on mental health nurses. Even though the picture is improving, this change is much too slow. In fact if the last years increase of 473 mental health nurses was repeated every year, it would take till 2027 to get back to May 2010 levels. Sadly the #NHSLongTermPlan was mostly silent but the next hope is that the working groups that have been created, led by NHS Improvement will provide some solutions."
If you are a mental health nurse or a mental health nurse supporter get in touch and get involved with #MHnursingFuture this #MHnursesDay.