Celebrating Mental Health Nurses Day

Date added: 21 February 2022

As we celebrate Mental Health Nurses Day (21 February 2022), we spoke with Teresa, who trained back in 1997 as a mental health nurse on the Project 2000 diploma programme.

“I was 18 when I started my nursing training with limited life experience. I knew some people at that time in my life who had mental health difficulties and this made me want to take up a career that would connect me with people when they were feeling vulnerable and positively impact the lives of others.

“The Project 2000 diploma programme was a nursing education programme set up by the NHS over three years. It was a very much a blended style of learning and you split your time between the classroom and practical placements. The first 18 months were spent in a range of adult, children, learning disability and mental health placements. After this you had to do 18 months in a discipline of your choice, which for me was mental health. I’ll never forget successfully passing the course and being awarded my nursing diploma.”

Fast forward 22 years and Teresa now tells people she’s been a registered nurse for more than half of her life!

“I’ve really enjoyed my career so far and have met some amazing patients and their families that have endured difficult life experiences. I would like to think that the work that both myself and my team have recommended have made a real difference to people’s lives. 

“I have learnt that having hope for someone when they have none left, as well as developing trusting relationships is crucial to the work that we do as mental health nurses.”

Teresa, now Head of Service for older adult services, is passionate about the profession and continuous professional development in particular. Throughout her career she has held many clinical and leadership roles which have taught her about leading with compassion, not being afraid of challenges and developing the strength and resilience to be flexible and adapt – great skills for anyone who is thinking about a career in nursing.

So what piece of advice would Teresa give to anyone now reading this and considering becoming a mental health nurse?

Teresa smiles and says: “bring your whole self to work, always, and never ever lose your integrity.  Our formative years, our ethnicity, our beliefs and faith, our sexuality make us who we are.  We need a diverse population of mental health nurses from all walks of life to best serve our local communities.”