It was when my colleague said “there’s nothing on the risk assessment form about whether the service user has a gun’” that I realised I had a lot of cultural adjustments to make…
I have just returned to London after working with colleagues in Turkey who are rolling out training for community mental health teams. In spite of considerable social challenges, a consensus among professionals is emerging in regards to recovery working and increased stakeholder involvement. I was amazed by Turkish mental health nurses’ expertise in managing a complex cultural and political working environment. Whilst they have high caseloads, experience limitations in terms of consistent staffing, access to funding and supplies it is apparent that Turkish service users, carers and mental health professionals are at the cutting edge of improvements in care and are changing lives for the better.
I was there to teach but I learned much more! In terms of mental health work there was a greater emphasis on social cohesion and less importance on medication and coercion. As a mental health professional I was extremely impressed by my fellow nurses and saw them leading in national contexts and speaking out for service user rights. They were present as educators, practitioners, activists and stakeholders. They were brave, professional, funny and warm - I was constantly inspired by their example.
International nurses’ day means being connected to something bigger than myself – a force for good in the world and a source of immense pride.
Nicky Lambert is a lecturer in mental health nursing at University of Middlesex