Government should consider placing mental health nurses in schools to support students’ mental health
Tuesday 14 December 2021
Following the recommendation by the final Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Report to double the ratio of psychologists in schools, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) says that qualified mental health nurses are equally well placed to help students.
The Federal Government is set to commission an independent review of the School Chaplaincy Scheme against the backdrop of calls to hire more psychologists to help students struggling with their mental health.
The ACMHN welcomed the recommendation to add more support for students, but urged that schools consider qualified mental health nurses as well as psychologists.
“Qualified mental health nurses bring holistic skills to the table – they understand both physical and mental health issues, and how they interact,” ACMHN CEO Stephen Jackson said.
“Australia has many qualified mental health nurses that could step up to help students right now, instead the report’s recommendation reflects an overreliance on the psychologist workforce that is already overstretched.”
School chaplains and mental health nurses could work alongside each other to provide holistic care for students who have faced increased mental health pressures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Chaplains do important work in providing pastoral care, listening to students’ concerns and needs, but they cannot provide the kind of counselling a mental health nurse can,” Mr Jackson said.
“Credentialed Mental Health Nurses often have postgraduate qualifications, they bring years of experience and a strong holistic skill set that makes them uniquely qualified to help young people.
“Government should consider these qualified MHNs who stand ready to help now instead of trying to get more psychologists whose capacity is already at its limit.”
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