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Celebrating our mental health nurses

​Mental Health Nurses’ Day: 21 February

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) is celebrating the vital role played by nurses who go above and beyond to provide high-quality care to patients during the first ever Mental Health Nurses’ Day.

The event, which is being spearheaded by the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) Mental Health Forum, takes place on Thursday (21 February). Its aim is to recognise the valuable contribution which mental health nurses make every single day while encouraging others to think about joining the profession.

NSFT is using the event to highlight the commitment and dedication of its staff, while also encouraging the public to show their support on social media by using the hashtag #MHNursesDay

Diane Hull, Chief Nurse with NSFT, said: “Training to be a mental health nurse was one of the very best decisions I ever made.

“Over the last 35 years I’ve seen so many challenges, changes and so much kindness, compassion and care, new ways of working and practicing. But it is the people that we care for and work with who are special.

“Patients and carers who touch your heart, who inspire and fill you with hope and humility. Colleagues, whose support, camaraderie and absolute commitment help you through the ever-changing, often challenging, always rewarding times which mental health nurses face.

“People who take time to listen, time to care, bring joy to work and who we will never forget is what mental health nursing is all about – it’s the people who make it special.”

The day has been organised partially in response to national statistics from the Nursing and Midwifery Council which show the number of mental health nurses fell from 90,693 in 2014 to 88,821 in 2018. It is hoped that by showcasing the variety which the role brings and the satisfaction of caring for others, more new recruits may be encouraged to join the specialty.

During the day, people can ask a question or join the conversation on Twitter using #MHNursesDay, while mental health nurses are being encouraged to share the things they love about their job.

For more information, visit

Caption: Diane Hull, NSFT Chief Nurse


Mental health nurse case study: Michael Jenkins

After a varied career, Michael Jenkins began his nurse training yesterday (18 Feb), during the week in which the first Mental Health Nurses' Day takes place.

The 38-year-old father-of-two from Dereham will spend the first week of his two-year mental health nursing degree apprenticeship undergoing an induction at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich.

His first job after leaving school with just one GCSE was as an apprentice truck mechanic but for the past eight years he has worked for NSFT.

He has had a variety of roles for the Trust, including as a storeman, library assistant, data technician / receptionist, peer support worker and senior support worker. He has also gained a Level 2 and Level 3 NVQ in Business Administration.

More recently, he had completed a two-year apprenticeship to qualify as an assistant practitioner, a role he currently carries out for the Central Norfolk Crisis Resolution Home Treatment (CRHT) team, based at Hellesdon Hospital.

“When I worked as a data technician / receptionist, I enjoyed observing the work of clinical staff and really respected what they did,” he said.

“Many years ago, I had mental health difficulties of my own and spent time as an inpatient, and this experience has helped me in my assistant practitioner role, and I’m sure it will help as a I train towards becoming a qualified nurse.

“The Trust has been supportive of me, and my ambition is to simply make a positive difference to the lives of patients so they can lead a meaningful life, with or without symptoms.”

During his mental health nursing degree apprenticeship, Michael will continue to work as an assistant practitioner for the Central Norfolk CRHT team, but will also study at the University of Suffolk and undertake a variety of placements to broaden his nursing experience.


Mental health nurse case study: Luke Peek

A Charge Nurse who joined NSFT after completing a mental health nursing degree has spoken of the enjoyment he takes from his role and from making a difference to patients every day.

Luke Peek qualified in September 2017 after studying at the University of East Anglia. Since then he has gone from strength to strength, first working on Thurne Ward, which is an acute assessment ward at Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich, before moving to Rollesby Ward, a psychiatric intensive care unit, on the same site.

The 23-year-old was appointed to his current role as a Charge Nurse on Churchill Ward at the Fermoy Unit in King’s Lynn, six months ago, and has fully embraced the opportunity to further develop his skills and understanding.

“I really enjoy my job," said Luke, who lives in Dereham. "Every day is different and you meet people from all walks of life. I particularly enjoy the contact with the patients and being able to play my part in providing good patient care.

“I enjoy looking at ways to improve the service we provide and making a difference.”

Luke has been interested in healthcare for as long as he can remember and enjoyed watching healthcare related television programmes when he was younger.

But it was a stint of work experience at a nursing home while he was doing his A Levels that sparked his interest in pursuing a career in mental health.

He added: “It’s a really rewarding role, and quite challenging at times but I work alongside a good team which makes a big difference. Sometimes patients can feel that there is no hope in moving forward, but I have witnessed people regain this hope and move towards recovery, which is always really gratifying.

“The opportunities I’ve had so far to learn and develop, and the support which I’ve received at every stage, have been brilliant. In the future I plan to continue developing my leadership and management skills but it’s still too early to say exactly where I would like to be working in the future."

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