Attracting more people into mental health nurse education

Student nurses

A new report from the Nuffield Trust, commissioned by NHS Employers and the Mental Health Network explores how we can attract more people, from a broad range of backgrounds, to study mental health nursing. 

The report, Laying Foundations: Attitudes and access to mental health nurse education provides recommendations span the health and care and educational systems and are relevant to a number of regional partnerships and local bodies involved in the training and recruitment of our mental health nursing workforce.

The recommendations in the report:

  • To ensure a more accurate and realistic image of the mental health nursing role, career options, work settings and the people mental health nurses care for.
  • To make investment to improve the societal status of mental health nursing and challenge stereotypes of the role.
  • To provide access to positive personal experiences and exposure to mental health services and staff, including sharing good practice through education and work experience.
  • For universities to promote a better understanding of the support and requirements for studying to become a mental health nurse.
  • To urgently improve communication of the level and purpose of cost of living grants across different settings and make sure there is a full range of routes into mental health nursing.

As well as identifying areas where action can be taken the report also says that there are reasons to be optimistic about the future and recognises how mental health nursing offers a rewarding career. 

Rebecca Smith, managing director of NHS Employers, said: “It’s absolutely vital that the health service must have access to a strong pipeline of talent into mental health nursing. That means taking steps such as reducing barriers to entering the profession, as well as making sure those considering a career in nursing are aware of all the avenues available to them, and in turn, of the range and the rewards a career in mental health nursing can offer.

“Across nursing in England, mental health has the highest numbers of vacancies after acute care. We therefore very much welcome the recommendations in this report and will continue to work with the Mental Health Network and other national bodies to do our part to help rectify the situation.”

Read the report.

We are also hosting a webinar with the Nuffield Trust on 5 November. Hear from the commissioners and researchers of the report to discuss how we improve the future supply of mental health nurses. More information available on the event web page.

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