An important part of our Public Mental Health programme is to ensure the workforce has the knowledge and skills to promote mental health, prevent mental illness and suicide and to improve the health and wellbeing of people with mental illness. This year we published our Public Mental Health Leadership and Workforce Development framework to address these topics, including the role of public health and mental health nurses, Allied Health professionals and the wider workforce.
Recently we held a Partner’s Forum to plan the next stages of implementation and to identify the changes that would have the greatest impact. Embedding public mental health into the nursing curricula is key, as well as Continuing Professional Development in mental health skills for the current workforce. As ever, the 0-5 and 0-19 workforce is a priority, including the support they receive (as well as the training) to address both mental wellbeing and mental illness.
Working with our partners is the only way we will meet our ambitions. It is therefore wonderful to announce that the Royal College of Nursing and the Institute of Health Visiting have both endorsed the framework, showing their commitment to this issue and to working with us to implement the priorities. Developing the public health skills of mental health nurses, especially to support smoke-free Mental Health Trusts, is a priority for the RCN. The IHV has already trained 10,000 health visitors in perinatal mental health. They also have a programme on Building Community Capacity which supports the framework ambition to increase staff confidence and skills in engaging and empowering communities through community-centred approaches.
Making Every Contact Count remains a key tool for nurses to have conversations with patients about staying healthy. It’s absolutely vital that looking after mental wellbeing is part of those conversations – it’s an important factor for lifestyle behaviour change as well as for raising healthy families and managing long term conditions.
It was perhaps no surprise that looking after staff mental health and wellbeing came out high in discussions at our partners’ forum, recognising the knock-on effect when working with patients. Understanding the causes of stress at work and taking action to address those causes was seen as the right prevention approach rather than simply training staff to be more resilient to adverse working conditions.
We welcome all nursing organisations to endorse the framework and to take action to improve knowledge and skills in this growing public health priority. You can download the documents at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/public-mental-health-leadership-and-workforce-development-framework
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Jude Stansfield, National Adviser, Public Health England