Inside ACMHN 2022: Our willingness to talk about mental health
Tuesday 21 June 2022
The College’s International Mental Health Nursing Conference is rapidly approaching – and what better way to get ourselves excited than to hear from our fantastic orator and keynote speakers? In our Inside ACMHN2022 series, we let them take the reins to tell you about mental health nursing in a climate of change, and what to expect at the conference.
In this Q&A Professor (Practice) Alison McMillan PSM, Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, has provided us with her thoughts on the significant impact on the nursing profession over the last few years:
1. This year’s conference theme is ‘Mental health nursing in a climate of change’. What is some of the most significant change to nursing that you’ve witnessed over the last few years?
- The significant impact on the nursing profession over the last few years has been the pandemic and the initial and ongoing pressures the workforce has enduring because of, for example workforce supply, ability to flex into emerging roles and the spotlight on aged care nursing.
- More recognition of the impact the work of nursing has on our mental health and a greater willingness of the community to talk about and acknowledgement of mental health.
- How the pandemic has impacted nursing – workforce supply, PPE, shift to emerging roles for nurses to fill (testing clinics, vaccination, public health, contact tracing) requiring flexibility, resilience, patience, and safety.
- Spotlight on Aged Care and Aged Care Nursing – mental health of staff (PTSD, trauma from this time) Royal commission recommendations, RACF’s capacity to respond to an outbreak, development of IPC leads.
2. What do you believe is the biggest challenge nurses are facing at the moment?
- The fatigue of the workforce, personal and professional wellbeing – acknowledging and supporting this through mental health initiatives (e.g., The Black Dog Institutes: The Essential Network).
- Recognising the opportunities that have come out of the pandemic and building on these, the challenge is not let them go – the opportunity in roles, diversity, undertake further training. Increased access for nurses and community, reliance on nursing, making the workforce more stable.
- Preparing the nursing workforce to better meet the mental and physical health needs of the community.
3. You’ve provided extensive advice to the National Cabinet during the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you believe the pandemic has shifted views on mental health?
- All Governments have recognised that the difficult decisions they needed to make had a massive impact all Australians.
- The investment in mental health support for both the community and health care worker demonstrates that.