Global mental health nursing workforce must be 'strengthened' – Nursing Times

Share Article

‘Support nurses to ensure a bright future for every child’
11 October, 2022 By
Source:&nbsp Ingimage
All countries must develop a workforce plan for mental health nursing and commit to increasing their domestic supply of these staff, an international report has urged.
Published to mark World Mental Health Day on Monday, the International Council of Nurses’ report also said that recognition and appreciation of the work of mental health nurses must be increased, and stigma attached to the specialism removed, if the workforce is to be developed to meet the worldwide increase in demand for mental health services.
“The key to transforming mental health care lies in strengthening the mental health nursing workforce”
Pamela Cipriano
The ICN surveyed mental health nurses, specialist mental health organisations, governments, and other experts across 44 countries to produce its report.
The ICN also looked at data from across 158 countries, and calculated that mental health nurses make up just 1.03% of the global nursing population.
On average, countries have 3.8 mental nurses per 100,000 population, compared with an average of 369 nurses in total per 100,000 population.
But in Africa, the figure for mental health nurses is 0.9 mental health nurses for every 100,000 of population, and in Europe the figure is 25.2 per 100,000.
Respondents to the survey indicated that there are multiple reasons why there are insufficient numbers of mental health nurses, including poor planning and regulatory environments; limited incentives to pursue a career in mental health; inadequate education preparation; the lack of reward and recognition; and what was described as the lingering stigma attached to mental health.
The report outlines several recommendations for countries to act on, including the need for a workforce plan for the specialty and a focus on domestic recruitment and retention.
In addition, the ICN calls for action to “tackle stigma” around the role and “promote the specialisation in mental health as a challenging and rewarding area of work”.
ICN president, Dr Pamela Cipriano, said that too many people around the world were simply unable to get the care and support they needed for mental health conditions.
“The erosion of mental health is considered by many as the flashpoint for the next pandemic, with one in eight people in the world living with a mental health disorder,” she said.
“As nurses form the largest part of the mental health workforce, the key to transforming mental health care lies in strengthening the mental health nursing workforce.
“It’s essential to reverse the under-investment in mental health and substance use services to reduce the disease burden for individuals and restore social and economic stability that has been threatened even more through the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Dave Munday
Responding to the report, lead officer for mental health nurses at union Unite, Dave Munday, said: “This international report is welcome, and should go alongside the work currently being done across the four UK nations to develop the mental health nurse workforce.
“In mental health nursing, as with every other part of our NHS, if the UK governments are serious about developing our NHS, it must address the cuts to staff pay that they have been imposed this year.
“The report rightly highlights the importance of retention which will be seriously damaged if this is not addressed as a matter of urgency.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Mental wellbeing remains a priority for the government, and there are over 38,200 mental health nurses working in NHS hospital trusts and health and care settings – 2,200 more than in 2019.
“As laid out in Our Plan for Patients, we will improve the availability of mental wellbeing support for all ages – including access to NHS talking therapies and strengthening support in schools.”
or a new account to join the discussion.

Megan Ford reports on a Nursing Times roundtable event discussing the recruitment and retention of overseas nurses during a global shortage
More Sponsor focus

Nursing Times Careers Live
HCA Healthcare UK
Swansea Bay University Health Board
University of Salford
University of Roehampton
University of Roehampton


You might also like

Surviving 2nd wave of corona

Surviving The 2nd Wave of Corona

‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort