Concerns raised regarding substandard mental health content in Australian nursing programs.

Thursday 23 March 2023

The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) has expressed serious concerns to the Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery (Australia and New Zealand) regarding the proliferation of graduate entry and abridged pre-registration qualifying degrees leading to nurse registration in Australia.

The ACMHN is urgently seeking a review of abridged and post-graduate ‘qualifying’ Masters programs and pre-registration nursing programs to ensure that at least a third of programs adequately address mental health, illness, and core mental health nursing skills.

Alarmingly, many two-year ‘Masters’ programs currently feature only two weeks placement in a mental health facility.

There has been near-universal acknowledgment that the current preparation of comprehensive nurses to work in mental health settings or with people experiencing severe mental states or distress is grossly inadequate.

As the peak professional mental health nursing organisation and the recognised credentialing body for Australia's mental health nurses, the ACMHN is dependent on the Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery (Australia and New Zealand) to provide higher education for nurses and midwives that incorporates contemporary mental health policy and practice developments and addresses the well documented treatment and service gaps in mental health care.

Future accreditation or reaccreditation of postgraduate courses leading to credentialing as a mental health nurse is contingent upon evidence that the majority of direct teaching is undertaken by Credentialed Mental Health Nurses (CMHNs).

It is vital that any course of study allows adequate time for consolidation of skills by students, and that all accredited courses provide opportunities for supervised clinical practice and evidence that such supervision is undertaken by appropriate qualified CMHNs.

High-quality Trans-Tasman leadership for academics in the university sector is essential for teaching on mental health nursing related topics. As was recently stated in the World Health Organisation’s World Mental Health Report 2022: ‘Business as usual for mental health simply will not do’.

For further comment, please contact ACMHN Media Officer, Sophie Howard on: (02) 6285 1078.


Australian College of Mental Health Nurses press release

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