Mental health deserves better: Resisting the dilution of specialist pre‐registration mental health nurse education in the United Kingdom

Warrender, Dan, Connell, Chris, Jones, Emma orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2153-2781, Monteux, Sebastian, Colwell, Lucy, Laker, Caroline and Cromar‐Hayes, Maxine (2023) Mental health deserves better: Resisting the dilution of specialist pre‐registration mental health nurse education in the United Kingdom. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing . ISSN 1445-8330

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This article aims to draw attention to increasing genericism in nurse education in the United Kingdom, which sees less specialist mental health education for mental health nursing students and offers opposition to such direction. In 2018, the Nursing and Midwifery Council produced the ‘Future Nurse’ standards which directed changes to pre‐registration nurse education. This led to dissatisfaction from many mental health nurses, specifically regarding reduced mental health content for students studying mental health nursing. Concerns have been raised through public forum and evolved into a grassroots national movement ‘Mental Health Deserves Better’ (#MHDeservesBetter). This is a position paper which presents the perspective of many mental health nurse academics working at universities within the United Kingdom. Mental health nurse academics collaborated to develop ideas and articulate arguments and perspectives which present a strong position on the requirement for specialist pre‐registration mental health nurse education. The key themes explored are; a conflict of ideologies in nursing, no parity of esteem, physical health care needs to be contextualized, the unique nature of mental health nursing, ethical tensions and values conflict, implications for practice, necessary improvements overlooked and the dangers of honesty and academic ‘freedom’. The paper concludes by asserting a strong position on the need for a change of direction away from genericism and calls on mental health nurses to rise from the ashes to advocate for a quality education necessary to ensure quality care delivery. The quality of mental health care provided by mental health nurses has many influences, yet the foundation offered through pre‐registration education is one of the most valuable. If the education of mental health nurses does not attend to the distinct and unique role of the mental health nurse, standards of mental health care may diminish without assertive action from mental health nurses and allies.

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