The GHA School of Health Studies is inviting applicants for the first ever Mental Health Nursing degree to be entirely delivered locally.
The course aims to address a long-standing issue of the lack of local nurses working within the field of mental health as well as meeting demands for the expanding work load that will see extended after care for patients.
Currently the team at Ocean Views predominantly focuses on acute cases which need hospital admission, but last year introduced the Community Mental Health Team which provides further support for patients living in the community.
The Minister for Health and Care, Neil Costa, told the Chronicle this degree course will ensure this sector is no longer “Cinderella” of the health services.
“It is regrettable that most people think of mental health as the Cinderella of the health services,” Mr Costa said.
“I hope the government has proved that is not the case for us. There is no health without mental health. Mental health ought to receive, and it does receive the resources it requires to deal with acute episodes.”
Mr Costa praised the work of local charity Clubhouse who provide support for those living with mental health issues within the community.
“Clubhouse has a wonderful, loving and supportive network and I have been very keen that the Government should do more in that respect,” Mr Costa said.
Mr Cosa added the Community Mental Health Team was introduced last year in a bid to ensure there is “no stark line” between acute admissions and the support in the community.
“I was told in my first meeting with mental health professionals that Gibraltar has a very difficult time in recruiting mental health nurses, the figures did in fact evidence a very good uptake wish to undertake a profession in nursing there were not that many who wished to pursue a nursing career in respect of mental health,” Mr Costa said.
He highlighted that one of the main reasons was that the School of Health Studies did not offer a mental health programme locally.
Mr Costa found people with children and families or those who did not wish to study abroad had no option locally to pursue this career.
“We are now ready to provide that programme,” Mr Costa said as he praised the School of Health studies on their work.
“I hope that now we can deliver the programme locally we will have many more people willing to do the course.”
The Mental Health Nursing degree is a three year programme that includes 12 modules with theoretical and practical assessments.
The GHA School of Health has also been providing an Adult Nursing degree programme for years.
The skills required by mental health nurses differ from adult nurses, for example, would be expected to undertake a mini mental health assessment and plan care based on that assessment seeking advice from a mental health professional.
A mental health nurse would be expected to undertake an in-depth mental health assessment using a variety of tools, make a mental health nursing diagnosis, plan care based on best available evidence, work with the service user set goals and aims, prescribe a plan of care, implement care and lead a multidisciplinary approach to care provision and carry out nursing interventions.
Mr Costa described how the specialist knowledge, skills and attitudes required of mental health nursing and adult nursing have similarities but are different.