Seeking Sense in Mental Health
We are a group of mental health nursing students aiming to create a therapeutic network to support students and professionals in practice.
We intend to provide a forum for open discussion and debate over practical and ethical issues relating to mental health theory, practice and service delivery.
Our network is intended to be multi-disciplinary and is open to all who work, study or simply have an interest or experience in the mental health field.
We appear to be at a time of great changes in the medical profession (Beasley, 2011; Lee & Fawcett, 2012) and nursing needs to find its own professional identity to develop and embrace those changes (Beasley, 2011; Clarke, 2012; Lee & Fawcett, 2012). However there appear to be conflicts within the very role of nursing. Advocacy, considered to be fundamental to nursing practice (MacDonald, 2006), is included as an essential quality of nurses in the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code (NMC, 2008) yet policy, in the shape of mental health legislation focus on risk management (Department of Health (DH), 2005), demands that mental health nurses be complicit in the denial of liberty and enforced treatment of some of those in their care (Pilgrim, 2005; Szmuckler & Applebaum, 2001).
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the King’s Fund both suggest that nursing morale is at an all-time low (Royal College of Nursing (RCN), 2015; Independent, 2015). Seeking Sense in Mental Health (SSiMH) aims to focus on auditing morale levels of students in placement and attempt to find ways to address issues arising from workplace stress, consider questions over ethical or practical aspects of treatment and raise awareness of alternative or complementary perspectives.
SSiMH has a practical and intellectual purpose that aims to support and inform professionals, students and service users alike. One focus within the network involves bringing the process of mindfulness to our groups, encouraging participants to use the practice to benefit both their personal and working lives whilst potentially also offering positive experiences for service users, their carers and families (Beddoe and Murphy, 2004). Our interactions with clients carry myriad layers of our own mental clutter and one way of developing a ‘clutter free’ communication is to have awareness of possible countertransference. Scheick (2010) suggests that this awareness can be achieved through mindfulness.
The aim of mindfulness is to slow the rapid and stressful stream of thoughts that constantly flow through our minds. Coming to a point of acceptance that we are in the present, not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future, and stilling the mind brings great calmness and an inner peace. When we are at our most relaxed and creative, we are in alpha brain wave mode. Stress is reported to deplete the alpha wave functionality of our brains while meditative practices such as yoga, Tai Chi and mindfulness enhance it (Miller, 2011).
Psychiatric drugs are associated with a variety of unpleasant and potentially life-threatening side-effects (Boseley, 2003; Boseley, 2005: Charatan, 2005) yet medication remains the dominant form of treatment for mental health problems (Moncrieff, 2009). The availability of alternative treatments such as psychological talking therapies is geographically inconsistent and access to them often involves long waiting times (DH, 2014).
We hope to encourage discussion and evaluation of the merits of complementary and alternative treatments. We have already started to develop links with service user groups and organisations such as the Hearing Voices Network who offer differing perspectives on mental health provision. We intend to invite speakers to share their visions of the future of psychiatric service provision and run workshops which will enable us to consider alternative perspectives on approaches to treatment and support. We recently held the first of these sessions, a well-attended Gestalt Art Therapy practical event which investigated emotional responses to visual imagery.
We have a facebook page, or follows us on twitter @SSiMH_Network and the SSiMH website is under construction. We welcome comments, questions and suggestions from students, service users, carers, professionals and anyone else who may also be seeking sense in the mental health field.
Nik Holland, Zoe Hughes, Robyn-Jayne Crofton, Laura Johnstone, Chantelle Maduemezia, Sasha Marshall, Imogen Sotos-Castello and Graeme Wetherill Mental Health Nursing BSc (Hons) students
Beasley, C. 2011. The heart of nursing: past, present and future, British Journal of Nursing 20(22) 1407.
Beddoe, A.E, S.O Murphy (2004) Does mindfulness decrease stress and foster empathy among nursing students? The Journal of Nursing Education 2004, 43 305-312. Available at: http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/15303583 Accessed 10/02/2015.
Boseley, S. 2003. Drugs for depressed children banned. The Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2003/dec/10/drugs.sciencenews Accessed 04/01/15.
Boseley, S. 2005. Drugs ‘can trigger suicide in adults’. The Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2005/aug/22/socialcare.medicineandhealth accessed 04/01/15.
Charatan, F. (2005) ‘Study finds that new antipsychotics offer few benefits over traditional drugs’ British Medical Journal volume 331 p. 717.
Clarke, P. N. 2012. Discipline-Specific Knowledge: Time for Clarity, Nursing Science Quarterly 25(2) 149-150.
Department of Health (2005) Government response to the Report of the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill 2004. London: Department of Health.
Department of Health (2014) Closing the Gap: Priorities for essential change in mental health. London: Department of Health.
The Independent (2015) NHS hospitals flatlining: Staff morale falls to new low after Coalition ‘bashing’ Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/nhs-hospitals-flatlining-staff-morale-falls-to-new-low-after-coalition-bashing-9075793.html Accessed 16/02/15.
Lee, R. C. and J. Fawcett. 2012. The influence of the Metaparadigm of Nursing on Professional Identity Development among RN-BSN Students, Nursing Science Quarterly 26(1) 96-98. Available at http://nsq.sagepub.com/content/26/1/96 Accessed 16/02/15.
MacDonald, H. 2006. Relational ethics and advocacy in nursing: literature review, Journal of Advanced Nursing 57(2) 119-126.
Miller, A. (2011) Exercises to Achieve Alpha Brain Waves. Available at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/438650 Accessed 10/02/2015
Moncrieff, J. (2009) ‘Deconstructing psychiatric drug treatment’. In: Mental Health Still Matters, edited by J. Reynolds, R. Muston, T. Heller, J. Leach, M. McCormick, J. Wallcraft, and M. Walsh. Milton Keynes, The Open University.
NMC (2008) The code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. London: NMC.
Pilgrim, D. (2005) Key Concepts in Mental Health. London: Sage.
RCN (2015) ‘Nursing workforce morale at all-time low’ Available at: http://www.rcn.org.uk/newsevents/news/article/uk/nursing_workforce_morale_at_all-time_low Accessed 16/02/15.
Scheick, D.M. (2010) Developing Self-Aware Mindfulness to Manage Countertransference in the Nurse-Client Relationship; An Evaluation and Developmental Study. The Journal of Professional Nursing 27 114 – 123. Available at: http://www.professionalnursing.org/article/S8755-7223(10)00145-6/abstract Accessed 10/02/2015
Szmuckler, G. and Applebaum, P. (2001) ‘Treatment pressures, coercion and compulsion’. In: Textbook of Community Psychiatry, edited by G. Thornicroft and G. Szmuckler. Oxford: Oxford University Press.