World Mental Health Day 2017

World Mental Health Day, founded by the World Federation for Mental Health, takes place each year on 10th October and adopts a different theme each time. The aim is to raise awareness about mental health and encourage people to think about ways to support those who are experiencing mental health conditions. This year the focus is on mental health in the workplace.

imageThe World Health Organisation discussed how depression and anxiety disorders are common and can have an impact upon a person’s work life. Stress is a major factor that contributes towards the development of mental health conditions. With increased demand, funding cuts and staff shortages, there is no doubt that nurses and healthcare services in general are under immense stress. Nurses working in hospitals are said to be twice as likely as the general population to have depression.

For some mental health nursing students, having lived experience of depression and/or anxiety is a big part of what motivated us to choose to study for a degree in this field of nursing. Personally I chose this career because of the platform it can hopefully give me to help improve mental health services that I was involved with when I was an adolescent and to promote awareness of mental health using not just personal experience but professional knowledge too.


Not many health professionals speak out about their experiences of living with mental health conditions through fear of having their capability to support other people doubted. Mental health conditions affect people in the workplace, and healthcare settings are no exception. To reduce the impacts of stress and workplace pressures on mental health it is important for people be aware of the support services available for employees. The NHS Services Directory is a useful tool for locating local places where psychological therapies can be accessed. Offering support can be as simple as asking a colleague how they’re feeling. If we start conversations, we’re closer to ending the stigma.


International #hellomynameis Day

July 23rd marks International #hellomynameis day. The #hellomynameis campaign was started by Dr Kate Granger MBE, a lady who set up a campaign in August 2013 using social media after receiving treatment in hospital for terminal cancer and realising that not all of the staff helping to support her introduced themselves. The campaign has raised awareness about the importance of healthcare professionals telling service users their name and role to help improve communication and increase the quality of patient care. The 23rd of July sadly marks the anniversary of Kate’s passing, though her husband Chris Pointon continues to travel the world delivering talks about Kate’s story and how we as healthcare professionals can improve people’s experiences of being cared for.


Hello, my name is Abbie and I am a student mental health nurse. As I am a couple of weeks away from the end of my first year I have had lots of contact with service users on practice placements so I’ve been able to get a flavour of how much of a difference introductions can make from a professional perspective. From a personal perspective when I’ve been treated myself and accompanying loved ones to the hospital or the doctors I’ve witnessed professionals assessing not just the physical health but also the personal thoughts and feelings (mental health assessments are very thorough – see here) of people without telling them their name. Not doing so can put up a barrier to communication as the service user may feel awkward and uncomfortable with disclosing very sensitive information that they may previously have never shared with anybody before to a nameless stranger. A simple introduction can make the service user feel more valued and willing to talk about things like what they’ve been experiencing and what they wish to gain from treatment, which helps professionals deliver person-centred care that is tailored to each individual’s needs. Kate’s #hellomynameis campaign strives to improve patient experiences and aligns with the 6 Cs, values underpinning effective nursing practice that were set out in Compassion in Practice: Evidencing the Impact (2016).

6csSome University of Manchester students find themselves on placement within the Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, which is where a number of nurses dubbed ‘Kate Granger nurses’ are the first in the UK to have been appointed. Kate Granger nurses will wear special identifiable badges and aim to encourage staff members in the trust to demonstrate effective communication and uphold the standards of compassionate care that Kate and her husband Chris have spent years campaigning for.

Searching #hellomynameis online brings up a wealth of posts showing healthcare professionals and service users pledging their support for the campaign. Visit the campaign’s website to see what events Kate’s husband is attending and find out more about how you can get involved.


Maintaining Friendships Old And New

I moved into halls for the first year of university despite already living in Manchester (well, Greater Manchester). I felt ready to gain some independence by ‘flying the nest’ and wanted to be within walking distance of university. When I lived with my mum before university I was only less than twenty miles away from the main campus so my friends from home who I used to live super close to aren’t incredibly far from my accommodation. The nursing course can get pretty hectic at times; more often than not all you want to do when you get back from placement is have a good kip!

Seeing my friends from home can be tricky to plan, to be honest, especially seeing as they have commitments like work and studying just like I do and it’s not just a ten minute journey involved in meeting up. I probably don’t tell them enough that I miss them, but I really do, and I really look forward to going home to meet up with my friends or having them stay over at my flat. Seeing my friends from home is so good for helping me stay grounded and true to my incredibly Mancunian roots and it reminds me of a big reason why I’m doing this course. I really hope I can make the people I care about and who care about me proud. If you don’t have the opportunity to meet up with your friends from home very often you’ll understand that the time you spend together is golden and you’ll appreciate it all the more. I’m so, so fortunate to have maintained friendships with such a brilliant bunch of people even after all these years.13151090_226356241076122_2131036156_nI enjoy spending time with the friends I’ve made on my course too, as I think we have a good balance between chatting about nursing as well as unrelated things. We’ll talk about what skills we’ve been learning on placement and helping each other stay motivated when writing assignments by offering suggestions of resources to look at and just offering a pep talk sprinkled with the essence of ‘as a fellow student nurse, I really know how you feel’ then five minutes later we’ll be having a conversation about something like make-up or food. I’m so, so fortunate to have made such a brilliant bunch of friends at uni.

My advice to anybody studying on a course that keeps you super busy (ring any bells?) would be to appreciate and make time for your friends from home whilst still being open to making new friendships at uni. Your friends from home will be glad that you’re enjoying yourself and have support for when they can’t physically come to see you. Believe me, you’ll have no idea how you would have made it through uni without your friends – old and new.


First Fears

I’m on my first ever placement since becoming a student nurse. Our first semester is over and there’s been plenty of time to wonder and worry about what going out into practice will be like. I was excited, nervous, and terrified all at once.
Will the service users be happy for me to work with them? Will the staff be okay with me asking lots of questions? What will I learn whilst I’m here? So many questions have been swimming round my head. To be honest, more questions have been cropping up as the weeks have flown by, but I’ve come to realise that’s what nursing is about. How else will I learn if I don’t ask questions?

My first placement is on a non-NHS recovery and rehabilitation mental health unit. The service users are admitted having spent time on acute wards so this hospital is a sort of ‘stepping stone’ in the recovery process for people with a range of different mental health conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder where nurses and support workers help them to develop the confidence and skills to carry out day-to-day activities including self-care tasks and cooking. I didn’t know much about the ward before coming on placement here, and the main thing I’ve learned is to ask anyone and everyone questions. Speaking to staff has been super helpful for learning the clinical skills involved in working as a nurse. I’ve gotten to practice and learn about person-centred care, administering medication and what lots of the abbreviations mean (wow, there are so many!) to name a few. I’ve sat in on ward round meetings where the multi-disciplinary team made up of nurses, doctors, care co-ordinators (basically community-based nurses), service users, family members, and any other relevant professionals get together to discuss medication, discharging patients, and any other developments for each service user. I’ve also potted up tablets for patients and found this a good opportunity to ask about what the different meds do and carry out some drug calculations. A lot of my time has been spent talking to service users, and these conversations have given me a great insight into what it’s like to stay on the ward. I was pleasantly shocked how much rapport with people you can build just by asking them about their day, and they’ll often appreciate the company and conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been perfect. I really struggled for a while with this nagging feeling that I was useless, and it creeps up every now and again. At times I’ve felt like a burden to the staff. I mean, I’ve been practically following staff round like a shadow and asking them to explain things that are probably really basic to them. As the weeks have passed my knowledge of how the unit runs has grown massively, though of course there are still things I’m not confident enough to try. Recently one of the nurses asked if I wanted to draw up medicine into a depot injection, but this was my first time even seeing one in person so I asked if I could watch instead. It’s okay to say you’re not ready if you don’t feel it. Honestly, there’s no rush to dive straight into every single thing right away, and although I felt disappointed in myself for a moment I reminded myself that I’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice skills like this in the future. After all, going on a spoke to a depot clinic can be arranged when I feel ready.