Year of the Nurse and Midwife

yonmMarking the 200 years which have passed since the birth of Florence Nightingale, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. In this toolkit the WHO describes these two professions as ‘the cornerstone of the strong, resilient health systems needed to achieve universal health coverage’, and estimates a global nursing workforce of 22 million. That’s a big number, but according to the WHO is still nine million registrants short if sustainable development goals are to be met.

Many people within nursing are already using the WHO’s initiative to channel efforts to promote the profession, and to press the case for investment and expansion. This is excellent, but events to celebrate and advance nursing in the next 12 months must reflect the diversity of the profession, and do more than concentrate only on the (excellent) contributions made by physical health care nurses. Here in the UK we formally recognise four fields of nursing, of which mental health is one, but in the WHO’s toolkit referred to above there is no mention of nursing work in this area.

Mental health nurses can most definitely use 2020 to take, and make, opportunities to talk about what they do, and to say why this is important. Already-confirmed dates for mental health nurses to showcase their contributions include Mental Health Nurses’ Day on 21st February 2020, and a one-day International Mental Health Nursing Research Conference to take place on 11th June 2020 at Middlesex University. As always, for people wanting an accessible introduction to the work of mental health nurses, and on routes to degree-level preparation, this still-current post on the Mental Health Nurse Academics UK website remains as good a place to start as any.

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