A SENIOR North Wales nurse is encouraging more people to consider a ‘hugely rewarding’ career in mental health nursing.

To mark the second annual Mental Health Nurses’ Day on February 21, Steve Forsyth, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Director of Nursing for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, wants to encourage more people to join the profession.

Like NHS organisations across the UK, BCUHB has a shortage of mental health nurses, with around 20 per cent of vacancies unfilled.

Steve, who is himself an experienced mental health nurse with more than twenty years’ experience, says the profession is 'more than just a job', describing it as 'a way of life, an adventure and a privilege'.

He said: "We’re always looking to recruit outstanding people to join our teams. There are so many diverse opportunities across the region in inpatient settings and our community teams. These include working with people with mental health problems, learning disabilities, addiction and eating disorders.

"There are real opportunities for people to progress throughout their career and we offer a supportive environment which enables our nurses to continuously improve their skills and knowledge.

"The privilege of being a mental health nurse means that I’d do my twenty plus years again in a heartbeat."

The Leader:

To mark Mental Health Nurses’ Day, other mental health nurses across the region have been sharing what makes the profession so special.

Since qualifying as a mental health nurse eight years ago, Matt Jarvis has managed a mental health team at Wrexham Maelor Hospital which was named the Nursing Times’ Team of the Year in 2019. He recently took up a new role with the Aston House Community Mental Health Team in Flintshire.

Matt added: "When I left school I always wanted to help people but I wasn’t sure where I would fit in. There was something special about mental health nursing that set it apart. It was about understanding the person as a whole and forming a trusting relationship.

"I’ve met some amazing people during my time eight years as a nurse and each time I work with someone, I learn something about them, but also learn something about myself. I’ve had ups and downs along the way but have worked in some fantastic teams where you share the joy but also support each other when times are hard.

"I’ve seen some of the most timid, quiet people develop and grow in confidence and become the best nurses. For me, it has been the most rewarding personal journey, and I’m so proud to be a mental health nurse working in North Wales."

Mental Health Nurses’ Day is an annual celebration to promote and celebrate the work of mental health nurses across the United Kingdom. It forms part of BCUHB’s wider celebrations to mark the World Health Organisation designating 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

Mental Health Nursing degree courses are delivered by Bangor University, with students able to study at campuses in Bangor or Wrexham.

Unlike in England, people studying at Welsh Universities qualify for the NHS Wales nursing bursary, which means that fees are paid and living cost contributions may be available.

The Welsh Government has confirmed that the scheme will be extended to nurses beginning their studies in the 2020-21 academic year.

More information about the course can be found online at https://www.bangor.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/B762-Mental-Health-Nursing