Earlier this month I made the trip to the University of Greenwich to celebrate this year’s Skellern Lecture and Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing (JPMHN) Lifetime Achievement Award. First up was Geoff Brennan, whose lecture was titled The dark art of influencing inpatient mental health nurses. Over his career Geoff has worked as a consultant nurse, and has edited (with Cath Gamble) the textbook Working with serious mental illness. He now serves as Executive Director of Star Wards, and in his talk gave an energetic account of hospital mental health nursing now and in the past, and the skills and qualities which underpin this work. Geoff has long been a champion for inpatient nursing, but in his talk he was generous, too, in acknowledging the contribution made by others in this field. Special mention went to Len Bowers, who led the Safewards trial and who (until his retirement) oversaw the dissemination of findings and the work of promoting the uptake of these around the world.
This year’s JPMHN Lifetime Achievement Award went to Philip Burnard, Emeritus Professor in the School of Healthcare Sciences at Cardiff University, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to introduce Phil to those present. Phil’s oeuvre is a remarkable one, comprising books and papers on interpersonal and communication skills, research methods, ethics, culture, stress and burnout, and much more. The Scopus database lists 181 articles which Phil has authored, including one (A method of analysing interview transcripts in qualitative research) which has been cited well over 1,000 times. Phil gave a frank, and drily humorous, account of his early life, his career in nursing practice and academia, and his experiences of depression. I enjoyed hearing Phil speak, too, of his attachments to shoes and hats (as the photo in this post confirms).
Big congratulations indeed to Geoff and Phil, and worth noting that information on nominations for future Skellern Lecturers and JPMHN Achievement Awards can be found here. The day following this year’s event involved a return to the University of Greenwich, hosted by Deborah Watkins, John Crowley and colleagues, for the summer meeting of Mental Health Nurse Academics UK. Our surroundings were, surely, the grandest in which we’ve ever gathered as a group, being within the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. Our meeting was particularly well-attended, with people making the journey from all four countries of the UK. Guest speaker was Dave Munday from Unite the Union, who gave an update on the #MHnursingFuture campaign. Also discussed were the new NMC standards and the assessment of mental health nursing students’ practice, MHNAUK’s recent responses to consultations and position papers, and (via a presentation from Mary Chambers) research impact. We meet again at the University of Essex in the Autumn.
Today I’ve been at this year’s meeting of the International Mental Health Nursing Research Conference scientific committee. This convened at the Royal College of Nursing headquarters in London. We had a good range of abstract submissions to deliberate over, and people can expect emails soon informing them of our decisions. We’re also pleased to have been able to identify our annual Mental Health Nurse Academics UK Lecturer for 2018. I dare not make an announcement on this front in this post, and shall wait for official communications to be made first.
Hopefully #MHNR2018, which takes place in Manchester in the middle of September, will be a lively and well-attended affair. There is, it has to be said, space for the conference committee to receive and deliberate over a larger number of conference abstracts than it did today. For #MHNR2019, my early request is: spread the word, and get writing. And for #MHNR2018, for people who missed the abstract submission date: do consider, if possible, participating as a delegate anyway.
Elsewhere, having been stuck in the PLOSONE editorial and peer review system for a spectacularly long period, this week’s good news on the mental health research front includes the acceptance for publication of a paper reporting the COCAPP metanarrative review of care planning and coordination. This has been lead authored by Aled Jones, and once it becomes available in the public domain I’ll post a link. Also accepted for publication this week is a paper lead authored by Jane Davies, derived from her PhD which I supported as a supervisor with Danny Kelly. Jane’s study was an investigation into choice and control in young people with cancer, and this article accepted by the European Journal of Oncology Nursingreports some of Jane’s main findings.
Talking of publications, later this week I head into a meeting of the Cardiff University Press editorial board. Up to now I haven’t written much on this site about the Press, which has been around since 2014 and supports journal publishing in diamond open access form. The Press is in the process of extending into monograph publishing, too, having struck an agreement with Ubiquity. For people looking to move their existing journal titles, or to found new ones, the Press is a good place to go and information on opportunities of this type can be found here.
Mental health nursing is important and fulfilling work, and offers a fine and rewarding career. More people also need to be doing it. By way of background, last month Mental Health Nurse Academics UK (MHNAUK) submitted a response to Health Education England (HEE)’s Facing the Facts, Shaping the Futuredraft health and care workforce strategy for England to 2027. Contained in this HEE draft are figures on trends in the numbers of nurses, by field of practice, employed in NHS England over the period 2012 to 2017.
Obvious at a glance from this figure is the decline in both mental health and learning disability nursing numbers over time. Elsewhere HEE also describes a 14% mental health nursing vacancy rate.
Now, the Nursing Times reports a reduction for the second year in a row (£) in the numbers of applications for nursing degrees received via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Declining applications need to be viewed in the context of the removal of bursaries for students of nursing enrolling at English universities. In MHNAUK we have said, more than once, that we fear the loss of bursary support poses a particular threat to our field of practice. The same applies to learning disability nursing, where at least one degree programme closed last year (£).
With all this in mind this may be a good time to remind people of this useful page, hosted on the MHNAUK website, on joining the profession. As this says:
Forget all the stereotypes about straitjackets and Victorian asylums; modern mental health nursing focuses on helping and supporting people from all walks of life with a variety of ‘common’ mental health disorders (such as anxiety and depression) as well as more serious disorders such as drug and alcohol problems, suicidal feelings, psychosis, bipolar disorder and dementia. They also play a key role in promoting mental health and well-being among the public and preventing mental health problems occurring in the first place.
Suffice to say that this has been the most peculiar of months. Large parts of the last four or five weeks have been spent on picket lines, at rallies, in community teach-outs and working to contract. I’ve joined with friends, old and new, in support of decent pensions for university staff. The Wikipedia page dedicated to the current dispute reports that the strikes are the most sustained to have ever taken place in UK higher education. A first offer to University and College Union members to end the action having been rejected, with the prospect of a further 14 more days of strikes across campuses looming a new offer has been tabled today (March 23rd). Next week will be critical, I suspect.
Elsewhere, I managed to disappear to the always-spectacular Cornwall for a week. That’s where the photograph above of the boat was taken. In the world of mental health nursing research, preparations for #MHNR2018 are now in full swing, with more information (including on abstract submission) to be found here. Our theme for this year’s conference is Place, Purpose and Politics: Re-imagining Mental Health Care, and we’ll be at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester on September 13th and 14th. Our confirmed keynote speakers are excellent in every way: Dr Eleanor Longden, Professor Sir Robin Murray, Dr Jonathan Gadsby and Professor Sonia Johnson. The fifth keynote speaker is…
…potentially you, reader. For the second year running we’re inviting nominations to deliver the Annual Mental Health Nurse Academics UK Lecture. This is a super opportunity for a mental health nurse who has made a significant contribution to the promotion and enhancement of mental health nursing education, research, policy and/or practice to speak at a major international event. Don’t be shy!
In other news, this month I was pleased to see the publication of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Dissemination Centre’s Forward Thinking themed review of research on support for people living with severe mental illness. I was a member of the project steering group for this piece of work, and the finished product is a fine resource indeed. I commend it to all those interested in the evidence base for mental health services and interventions, and am also pleased to report that the review included many studies led by, or otherwise involving, researchers with backgrounds in mental health nursing: Safewards, the City 128 extension, SPICES, RiSC, COCAPP, COCAPP-A, RESPECT.
In previous posts (see here and here) I’ve written about Mohammad Marie’s PhD, which investigated resilience in Palestinian community mental health nurses. A fourth paper derived from this study has just been assigned to the January 2018 issue of the journal Health. This is a review of literature, and addresses (amongst other things) the connections between resilience and the idea of ‘Samud’. By following this link a gold open access version of the paper can be downloaded for free.
Cardiff welcomed delegates to the 23rdInternational Mental Health Nursing Research Conference (#MHNR2017), which took place at City Hall on September 14th and 15th 2017. This was the conference’s first visit to Wales, with the theme for the year being Imagination, Invention and Inquiry. Papers were welcomed emphasising the need for new ideas, new research and new ways of providing services. As a curtain-raiser, with the involvement of André Tomlin (aka The Mental Elf), keynote speakers took part in a pre-conference streamed webinar which can still be viewed here.
#MHNR2017 (which, as readers of this blog will know, was until last year known as the Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research Conference), was again organised jointly by Mental Health Nurse Academics UK (MHNAUK) and the Royal College of Nursing. It remains the UK’s leading annual event of its kind. I was pleased to serve as chair of the conference steering committee for this year, and got to open proceedings with a short welcome address.
Across the two days keynote speakers (all of whom were live streamed: see below) were Professor Joy Duxbury, who drew on her programme of research into reducing restrictive practices; Dr Phil Cooper, Danny Sculthorpe and Jimmy Gittins who gave inspirational talks drawing on the personal experience of mental distress and their work with State of Mind; Dr Jay Watts, who challenged delegates to embrace the idea of trauma-informed care; Dr Michael Coffey, who spoke as one of two inaugural MHNAUK Lecturers about the problem of assessing risk; Professor Paul French, also an inaugural MHNAUK Lecturer, who talked about his programme of research into psychosis; and Professor Gary O’Reilly who introduced his research into the use of computer games as a vehicle for the provision of psychological therapies for young people with mental health difficulties.
Here are the saved live streams from our excellent keynotes for those who are interested. Eventually we’re hoping to upload higher quality recordings to our conference YouTube account:
Elsewhere I heard some outstanding presentations from colleagues elsewhere in the UK and around the world, and was particularly heartened to listen to and to meet student nurses. Thanks for coming, everyone.
Planning for #MHNR2018 will begin shortly, with updates available via the conference twitter account which can be found here.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council is consulting on its programme of change for education. Information can be found here, and there’s a lot of it. Mental Health Nurse Academics UK (MHNAUK) will be submitting a response, with Anne Felton from Nottingham University (who leads MHNAUK’s Education Standing Group) coordinating this work.
On July 11th, with mental health nurse academic colleagues in the School of Healthcare Sciences in Cardiff I spent part of our annual summer away day formulating a team response to the NMC’s proposals. Once we’re happy with the content we’ll be forwarding it to Anne, and simultaneously submitting directly to the NMC.
Individually and collectively, other mental health nurses will be formulating responses too. For now, the NMC confirms that the four nursing fields (mental health, adult, child and learning disability) will remain. For an explanation of the importance of preserving mental health nursing as a pre-registration speciality, follow this link for MHNAUK’s relevant position paper. But, as MHNAUK Chair Steven Pryjmachuk pointed out last month in this piece (£) for the Nursing Times, the list of nursing procedures contained in the NMC’s draft standards of proficiency is heavily skewed towards the adult field. This is the Cardiff University mental health team’s concern too, and we’ll be saying so (with specific examples) in our response. Another place for this (and any other) view to be given is at this forthcoming WeMHNurses chat:
Meanwhile, last week ended with two days of professional doctorate teaching. With Nicola Evans I lead a module which addresses working in, and examining, complex systems of health and social care. We’ve run this module before, and as always the student group was a lively and engaged one. Amongst the things we discussed together are the connections running within and between systems of different scale, and the sometimes unforeseen consequences of introducing change. These are matters about which both Nic and I have written (see here, here, here and here).
To link the two parts of this post together: the NMC is a big player, and for better or worse its programme of education reform will trigger significant disruption. A systems thinking perspective encourages us to consider the possible impact of the NMC’s proposals alongside other sources of change. These include the introduction of fees for student nurses in England, the arrival of nursing associates and reductions in the size of the UK’s registered nurse workforce. As cumulative shifts take place I’m hoping mental health nursing as a distinct profession emerges intact, with its current and future practitioners able to fulfil their places in a system which continues to very much need them.
As Skellern Lecturer Mary Chambers gave a fine, interactive, presentation emphasising the importance of making visible the invisible work of mental health nurses. Here’s Mary with Ben Thomas and Isaac Marks, no less. Amongst other things Mary talked about her work developing the Therapeutic Engagement Questionnaire, a tool designed to establish the value of mental health nursing.
Len Bowers was recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. He gave a deeply personal, altogether humorous, account of his career in mental health nursing, highlighting in particular the curious accidents which helped propel him to the forefront of the profession. Len’s Safewards programme, of course, was no accident and his contribution to improving mental health nursing practice through research of this type continues to be sorely missed in the months following his retirement. Here he is receiving his award from Alan Simpson.
Friday was a meeting of Mental Health Nurse Academics UK, hosted by Sally Hardy at London South Bank University. Detailed notes from the meeting will appear in due course on the group’s website. In the morning Katie Evans from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute talked about the associations between mental health problems and money difficulties, making the point that debt advice (which is a regulated activity) needs to be incorporated into care pathways where necessary.
MHNAUK is in the process of setting up permanent standing groups, covering the areas of: research; education; policy and practice; and communication. Each group now has a lead person, and each group has plenty to do. The education group, led by Anne Felton, will be coordinating MHNAUK’s response to the NMC’s consultation on proposed new standards for pre-registration nurses. At this last week’s meeting, under the education group agenda item, members heard about plans for this autumn’s #FutureMHN conference. The research group, led by Mary Chambers, will be coordinating MHNAUK’s work in the context of the future Research Excellence Framework. On Friday, as part of the research group update I gave a progress review for this year’s #MHNR2017 conference. The policy and practice group is led by John Baker, and members (John included) have been working on (amongst other things) safe staffing. The final group is communications, led by Steven Pryjmachuk and me.
[…] be delivered by a mental health nurse in, or out of, the UK who in the opinion of the MHNR committee, the Chair and the Vice Chair of MHNAUK has made a significant contribution to the promotion and enhancement of mental health nursing education, research, policy and/or practice.
Perhaps, over the coming bank holiday weekend, readers of this blog might give some thought about possible nominees? We’re welcoming self-nominations, and nominations coming from others.