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A focus on mental health

10 October 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 18


Sarah Eales, Senior Lecturer, Mental Health Nursing, Department of Nursing Science, Bournemouth University, discusses the importance of making mental health central to nurse education

At this time of year universities are welcoming their new cohorts of students to their nursing pre-registration programmes. For many universities, this year will see the implementation of the Future Nurse standards (Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2018).

As an educator and clinician whose focus for many years has been mental health care in non-mental health settings (Chartres et al, 2017), I welcome the expectations that our future nurse education will have a much greater focus on the impact of mental health needs and the psychological impacts of physical health needs.

There are numerous challenges to meeting these expectations, in the classroom, through self-directed study and also in the clinical environment. These changes to expectations are long overdue and bring our nursing education standards in line with what we have always claimed to be—holistic practitioners (McEvoy and Duffy, 2008). Practitioners defined by a dual or dichotomous approach to care will see the nursing of mind and the nursing of body as completely separate, with environmental and social impacts largely considered outside of the nursing sphere. Holistic nursing practitioners consider and can support the whole person and take account of the context and meaning of health and illness outwith the person's care episode or our care environment. Holism, of course, aligns closely with person-centred care, which we also strive to embrace. Achieving holistic and person-centred care increases in complexity when we further acknowledge that we work in an integrated multiprofessional healthcare system with differing perspectives and educational traditions.

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