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Call to acknowledge value of mental health nurses

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The value of mental health nurses in supporting and listening to patients should be acknowledged more widely, the leader of a nursing charity has indicated.

They probably have the most contact time with patients in the sector, when compared to other health professionals, according to the chief executive of the Foundation of Nursing Studies.

“Mental health nurses arguably have the most contact time with those using services”

Theresa Shaw

In a short blog, published yesterday, Dr Theresa Shaw used recent media attention on the mental health sector to highlight the role of its nursing staff.

“There have been numerous reports across the media highlighting the need to acknowledge the impact of mental health across the population, none more powerful than this weekend when Prince Harry shared with the world his struggle with mental health issues,” she said.

“One of the things he talked about was the value of having someone to listen to you, he said he was not seeking advice, he just wanted someone to listen,” noted Dr Shaw.

Foundation of Nursing Studies/RCN Foundation

Video to support social care nurses with revalidation

Theresa Shaw

“When he did seek counselling, he was able open up and talk about long pent up feelings and emotions and no doubt with skilled help found solutions for his future wellbeing,” she said.

Dr Shaw highlighted that, while there were a range of professionals working across mental health services, the greatest number were nurses – with a “great ability and capacity for listening”.

She highlighted the foundation’s latest report on the mental health sector, titled Playing Our Part: The work of registered and graduate mental health nurses.

She said the report, published last month, noted how “highly regarded and valued” nurses were by people who used mental health services.

“Indeed, mental health nurses arguably have the most contact time with those using services whether this be in the community, in-patient environments or at home,” she stated.

This week has seen both Prince William and Prince Harry speak out on mental health issues in relation to the death of their mother in August 1997.

Prince William has said the “shock” of his mother’s death is still with him, 20 years after she was killed in a car crash in Paris.

The prince, who was 15 when Diana, Princess of Wales died, said the loss of a parent “never leaves you”.

“I still have shock within me – people say it can’t last that long but it does,” he told the BBC One documentary, Mind Over Marathon, which will be broadcast on Thursday.

Meanwhile, his brother Prince Harry revealed over the Easter weekend that he sought counselling after spending nearly 20 years “not thinking” about the death of his mother.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said it was not until his late 20s that he processed the grief, after two years of “total chaos” and coming close to a “complete breakdown”.

Along with his brother and sister-in-law – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – he is promoting the Heads Together mental health campaign, the London Marathon’s charity of the year.

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