Back to the Future!

Written by: Liam Mackie, Second Year Student Mental Health Nurse – Abertay University.

Liam previews the upcoming Future of Mental Health Nursing conference.

What is the future of mental health nursing? Well that’s a big question and not one that’s easily answered in a short piece of writing. On the 13th of May 2019 a handful of students from the University of Abertay, Edinburgh Napier University, Glasgow Caledonian University and Stirling University, in collaboration with Mental Health Nurse Academics UK (MHNAUK), are putting together a conference to try and shine a light on what the future holds for current mental health nurses, newly qualified nurses as well as our current and future student nurses.

How did we decide what to focus on? Well, we discussed how our ageing population is increasing along with the rising number of people being diagnosed with dementia, within the younger and older populations (this link will take you away from our website). Older adults and dementia are most definitely within our future and who better to highlight that than the ALLIANCE’s very own Tommy Whitelaw. I think every student attending the conference can say they have been moved by Tommy’s story of him caring for his Mother and the challenges loved ones face after a dementia diagnosis. This of course is a huge part of where our focus needs to be, however there are many other pressing issues with the same high importance. So where else should we be focusing?

Trauma and adversity are significant risk factors in poor health and wellbeing and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can be linked to many health inequalities. Both influence developing mental health related issues later in life (this link will take you away from our website). Trauma informed care is the framework that NHS Education for Scotland (NES) are in the process of developing through ‘The Scottish Psychological Trauma and Adversity Training Plan’. Being such a key focus is why we just had to have trauma informed care within our workshops. Students can discuss how this becomes part of the way we see trauma informed care within our future roles.

What else is relevant to our future? Wellness and recovery action planning, hosted by a local mental health nurse. Self-care is key to ensuring nurses don’t experience burnout. These workshops will not only give insight into how to develop effective care plans with service users, but also develop tools to promote self-care, two extremely important aspects when thinking about the future of mental health nursing.

Mental health treatment has come a long way since the days of asylums and so has Nursing as a profession. How did we get here? …Research. Florence Nightingale introduced evidence based practice to our profession and it is the key to maintaining and developing our practice, especially when thinking about our future. How do we get people interested in following this career path? Easy, we get the Editor in Chief, from the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing to run a workshop on ‘How to get your paper past an editor’. Not one to miss for our budding research nurses out there, especially since he will be supporting one paper to be published!

With all this happening in May, I don’t think I mentioned how we decided what the future of mental health nursing was? That’s because we couldn’t narrow it down. Mental health nursing holds so many opportunities and varying aspects we just couldn’t focus on a certain area. Instead we decided to #bethechange and showcase as much as possible as well as encouraging students to not only see what the future holds, but be part of the change. Hop on over to twitter and follow @FutureMHN_Conf (this link will take you away from our website) to find out what else is in store or if you are a student mental health nurse head on over to Eventbrite (this link will take you away from our website) and book a place. #bethechange and be the future.

Liam is a ‘Future of Mental Health Nursing conference 2019’ Committee Member. He is also a member of the Scottish Healthcare Students Council.

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