Tag: #ACMHN2018

Observations from a small country

IMGP3076Here are two digital mementos from my trip to Australia: a photograph of a humpback whale (which breached and swam under the boat I was on for a good 45 minutes), and – more pertinently, perhaps, given the usual subject matter of this blog – the slides I used in my keynote talk at #ACMHN2018. This was the conference of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, held in Cairns in October 2018, and from which I have now returned home. My talk was all about mental health policy, services and nursing in Wales: which means this may actually be the only time I ever get to write about both ‘Wales’ and ‘whales’ in the same post.

Here are the slides, the material for which I’m also aiming write up as a paper:



Big thanks to the Board of Directors of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) for inviting me to speak at the 44th International Mental Health Nursing Conference, or #ACMHN2018, which took place in Cairns between 24th-26th October 2018. Never having been to Australia before, and indeed having never before left Europe, this was a big deal and I was grateful for the opportunity.

The theme for the conference was ‘mental health as a human right’, and the three days opened with a memorable welcome to country given by Yidinji tribal elder Henrietta Marrie followed by music and dance. Keynote speakers reflected well the conference theme in their talks, variously focusing on tackling health inequalities (including amongst Aboriginal people), suicide prevention in LGBQTI communities, rural mental health, human rights progress in Ireland (and more). Concurrent presentations were also very high-quality. Worth noting, too, is how the ACMHN used its conference to raise awareness of its campaign, being run in concert with other health care organisations, to demand that children and families seeking asylum and currently being held on the island of Nauru be brought to Australia.

In my keynote I elected to speak about mental health policy, services and nursing in Wales and made the point that the Welsh approach to health care is different from that found elsewhere in the UK, or in other parts of the world. To illustrate this I spoke about the Mental Health (Wales) Measure, the introduction of both future generations and safe staffing legislation and the imminent appearance of a Framework for Mental Health Nursing prepared through the All Wales Senior Nurse Advisory Group for Mental Health.

I realise that in the UK we have nothing quite like the ACMHN: a professional organisation comprised of subscribing members, which represents its field, acts as a credentialing body (nursing education in Australia being a generalist one) and which lobbies for better services and higher standards. The College has a Board and an elected president, the current incumbent being Eimear Muir-Cochrane, and employs a team including Kim Ryan as salaried chief executive officer. The ACMHN performs no trade union function (like the RCN, Unite the Union, and Unison in the UK), and does not register or regulate nurses (as the NMC does). Australia looks to have a number of colleges and associations organised along the same lines as the ACMHN, and I’ve found this site which lists bodies advancing practice and representing members in the fields of critical care, midwifery, children and young people’s nursing, and more.

#ACMHN2018 was an excellent experience, and I was pleased to meet roomfuls of fine and interesting people. For the record, #ACMHN2019 takes place in Sydney between 8th-10th October 2019, with the theme of ‘integrated care’.

#MHNR2018 and #ACMHN2018

mosiEarlier this month I made the journey to the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester for the 24th International Mental Health Nursing Research Conference (#MHNR2018). Here’s a snip from the short piece which appeared on the Mental Health Nurse Academics UK (MHNAUK) website:

This is MHNAUK’s conference, run annually in conjunction with the RCN and with support from André Tomlin (The Mental Elf) who used social media to bring the event beyond the room.

Keynote speakers were: Dr Eleanor Longden, who talked about voice-hearing as a complex and significant experience; Professor Sonia Johnson, who spoke about the need to improve lives through improved psychosocial interventions; Professor Alan Simpson, who delivered the second annual MHNAUK lecture with a call for mental health nurses to speak up and assert their value; Professor Sir Robin Murray who spoke about biopsychosocial approaches to understanding, and treating, psychosis; and Dr Jonathan Gadsby who talked about the Critical Mental Health Nurses’ Network and invited delegates to join a discussion on conscientious objection. Concurrent sessions and symposia were packed and lively, and discussions and debates at the venue were mirrored by conference-related discussions taking place online. Podcasts with Robin Murray, Sonia Johnson, Alan Simpson and Laoise Renwick (who chaired the #MHNR2018 conference committee) can be found here on Soundcloud.

Also announced at the conference was news of Professor Mick McKeown as Skellern Lecturer for 2019, and Professor Patrick Callaghan as recipient of the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Lifetime Achievement Award. Congratulations to both from all in MHNAUK, and we look forward to hearing their addresses at Kingston St George’s, London, on 13th June 2019.

#MHNR2018 closed with a date for the diary: the 25th International Mental Health Nursing Research Conference will take place on 12th-13th September 2019 at the RCN headquarters in London. More details about #MHNR2019 will be posted in due course.

This was an excellent two days, and I reflect on how far the conference showcased variety in perspectives and positions. Now, with John Baker having served a four year term as a member of the conference organising committee, expressions of interest are being sought (through MHNAUK) for an experienced mental health nurse academic to take his place. Planning for #MHNR2019 will begin in earnest towards the end of this year or early next, though as the post reproduced above states we already have our dates and venue confirmed.

Whilst we’re on the subject of conferences: earlier this year I received an invitation from Kim Ryan and the Board of Directors of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses to speak at the 44th International Mental Health Nursing Conference. This takes place next month, in Cairns, and I’m currently in the process of writing (and rewriting) what I’m going to say. The subtitle to my talk is, ‘observations from a small country’, and I’m going to talk about the distinctiveness of mental health services and nursing in Wales and what can be learned from this. Perhaps when I’m done, and the conference has closed, I’ll post a full set of my slides here to this site.