Mental health nurses a strong focus in Victoria’s new mental health and wellbeing workforce strategy

Thursday 23 December 2021

The Victorian Government’s recent mental health and wellbeing workforce strategy emphasises the important role that mental health nurses (MHNs) play in the state’s mental health care system. But it falls short in a few areas according to the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN).

Many of the Victorian Government’s reforms underway or commencing in the coming years relate to mental health nurses, including a $76 million spend on entry pathways for MHNs, and $16.1 million for postgraduate mental health nursing scholarships.

“It’s great to see that the government clearly values the skills of MHNs as evident by their financial commitments,” ACMHN Vice-President Professor John Hurley said.

“However, we would’ve welcomed some more staffing on the acute wards to relieve some of the pressure that MHNs are facing there.”

To build more workforce supply, the strategy also recommends “ongoing professional development, career pathways, incentives and credentialling.”

“We believe that credentialing is key. The College already provides the ACMHN Credential – the only nationally consistent standard for recognition of specialist MHNs,” ACMHN CEO Stephen Jackson said.

“Credentialed Mental Health Nurses do their work to the highest standard, and consistently continue to train and develop professionally. There’s a growing number of employers who require the Credential, and we encourage the Victorian Government to use the Credential consistently to ensure they hire qualified MHNs.”

The ACMHN was also pleased to see a focus on strengthening discipline foundations to “articulate each discipline’s professional and ethical values, practice principles and scope of practice”.

“We’d be pleased to work with the government on expanding and building upon our current MHN scope of practice,” Professor Hurley said.

“Overall, we believe that this strategy could be a starting point for the federal level as well. MHNs deserve a consistent level of support and recognition all across Australia.”

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Australian College of Mental Health Nurses press release, mental health policy Australia, Victoria mental health nursing

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