Mental health professionals and their mental health survey
We asked our candidates working in mental health what are their views and experiences of their own mental health. Have a look at the report Mental Health Among Mental Health Workers.
Interview with a mental health nurse
We are catching up with Kemi, a band 5 mental health nurse in Kent, who registered with TFS back in April. She shares what’s like being a mental health nurse.
Can you tell me a little bit more about your job?
I’m working with young people from the age of 12 to 17 with mental health or behavioural issues. I need to carry out an assessment first to see what they are currently diagnosed with. I need to provide evidence of their daily presentation and how they are doing in terms of mental health.
Some patients may be experiencing some kind of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or a major trauma, affecting their life. While others might not be experiencing mental health issues at all. Their condition could be about behaviour, so I have to manage how to contain the situation. I’m also working alongside patients’ caretakers, parents, schools and social services, in terms of how we can all manage their condition. We look at the physiological and social aspects of care. I have to consider the patient’s presentation, family history of genetic mental health illnesses and other factors.
Working with young people is also about gaining trust really and working in a least restrictive practice. Young children have different routine and it varies from patient to patient. I believe it’s about accepting not being too harsh towards young people because it can affect them.
Why did you decide to go into mental health nursing?
I’ve been a mental health nurse for about eight years and I find it very interesting. I’ve previously worked with older people from the age of 65 to 100. I have a passion of helping and supporting people with mental health. It’s not only about patient’s mental health. As a nurse I have to also look at their physical health, which is very important as well. For example, people with psychosis might have delirium, which is a severe UTI, so part of our job is to eliminate conditions and causes.
What would you say is the best part of your job?
During the first point of contact when you admit a patient who is very unwell, and then one-two weeks later you can see the changes of presentation and improvement in their mental state. When patients are heading towards positivity and are able to handle their mental health. I find it extremely rewarding when we actually start talking about patient’s recovery – where do we go from here in terms of the transition from the hospital setting into the community and going back to the parents and school.
What would you say is the worst or most challenging part of your job?
Every job is challenging in a way. I think being a mental health nurse is about how you manage situations. During the first contact you need to give someone struggling with mental health the support they need. They’ve perhaps walked in a hospital for the very first time and you need to make them feel comfortable and listen to them. The key aspect of the services we provide is about listening, which is tremendously important.
Communication is also important, because some patients might need some kind of talking therapy and I strongly believe talking therapy starts from the first point of contact with patients. It’s very crucial how you manage young patients.
In addition, I often reflect on my personal experiences to support my client group. I’m a mother of three. My oldest child is 24 and from a young age we were told he had behavioural issues and now he is a construction engineer, so I think I did a good job there in terms of containing and supporting.
Managing care is about communicating with colleagues, family and loved ones is very important, because without their support you can be back to square one with certain patients.
You are working as a full-time agency nurses, is that right?
Yes, that’s correct.
Why do you prefer being an agency nurse, as opposed to having a permanent role?
I prefer to work as an agency nurse, because of the flexibility it offers. As I said, I’m a mother and I need my shifts to be flexible. I’ve been doing night shifts and each week I have three days off, so I can look after my kids and see them during the day. With a 9-to-5 role I’d arrive home at 7pm, feeling really tired and I will have limited time to spend with my children. I might look into a permanent job in the next few years, but for the time being agency nursing suits me perfectly.
Share your story
We want to spread the word and raise awareness of the great job of mental health professionals. Why don’t you share your story with us?