Community Mental Health Nurse (Children and Adolescents)
I work with children and young people with mental health problems. The overall difference I want to make is for them to feel happy and healthy – enabling belonging, and purpose in their own way. I want to ensure that the children and young people and their families get quick reliable access to what they need when they need to, to avoid them feeling unsupported or alone through times that can be very scary and anxiety provoking.
I feel providing knowledge around mental illness allows the people I care for and their families the focus, and empowerment to cope in circumstances that sometimes feel completely unknown and out of their control. I want my nursing care to be delivered in a way that ensures sound practice and input to assessment, diagnosis, and treatment to make this process as supportive, informed, and accurate as it can be. I would hope that the type of care I provide can prevent children and young people needing ongoing support in their adult years. However, if they do, I have helped make this transition and continued mental health journey within services as short and person-centered as it can be.
In my team leader role, I work hard to ensure that the Tayside area gets equity of service across it. This can be challenging due to the size, variation of urban and rural communities, travel, different education boards and private schools, third sector provisions, and social care partners that span the area. Skills such as good coordination, knowledge of local areas, persistence, good working relationships, and acceptance of difference, allow me to maintain my vision and achieve my goal around this.
My role as a team leader means managing a variety of staff, service development and improvement, which I really enjoy but it can come with its challenges. I try to remain open minded, supportive, and compassionate with staff and be as transparent as I can be to ensure we all work together well as a team. Promotion and role modelling of fun, respect, care, and kindness is essential and allows us all to enjoy our working day and interactions with each other to the fullest.
Working as part of a team it is essential to have skills such as managing daily change, crisis, and unplanned care. Good communication, engagement skills and persistence with colleague, systems, but most importantly with the children and young people we work alongside, as sometimes they don’t want to talk to or see you. Remaining measured and focused during times of distress and conflict, and being able to think outside of our service are skills I have grown through my experience. I’m constantly looking at the bigger picture.
Being a visitor in a child or young person’s home or school requires respectful, adaptable, and non-judgmental qualities, but also the ability to show warmth and your human side.
I love how working in the way my team does, allows me to get to know the people I care for and their families well. I get to see real change and growth due to the intensity of the work or the longer period we spend with them, and this is something that not a lot of areas of nursing get to experience. Working as we do we can influence change and people’s experience of mental health services by providing the right care at critical stages in patients’ journeys.
We get to work very closely with our multi-agency colleagues which enable amazing community support systems which we cannot provide on our own, and these can stay after we are no longer needed. Mental health is still highly stigmatised and so our role can help inform and educate, but also encourage the normalisation of mental health as a whole. I think community nursing keeps me grounded, connected to my community, and continues to keep me passionate about my job as a nurse.
Regardless of social standing, culture, fortune, or education we all have mental health which no one is exempt from everyday life or circumstances impacting upon. Working in my job allows me to remain mindful of this and encourages my responsibility to look after my own mental health and wellbeing to be all that I can be in my job role and encourage this also amongst my family, friends, and colleagues.
Doing the QN programme has helped me feel more content in my ability and strengths as a nurse but also as me. I have been able to feel confident and see the changes I can contribute to or lead. I feel free to take on challenges that may have once caused me to second guess myself and I am not shy in my expression of passion for what I am doing. I am motivated to make a change and try new ways of working and feel more comfortable with getting others on board to join me with this. I can own my own fears and anxieties more and I am not afraid to challenge myself around these. I have definitely noticed how doors and opportunities have opened for me and the service I work in by changing my outlook and approach within my work. I am kinder to myself and prioritise time for self-care and reflection as I know it is essential to me being who I want to be.
When COVID-19 began the services, I work within were essential to keep children and young people supported at home. Collectively as a team, we have had lots of fears and anxiety around going into people’s homes on a daily basis and interacting with each other in the workplace. It is a testament to the team, how we supported each other and carried on visiting through this time. I used to be very aware on my way to work or doing home visits that I could be the only car on the road – it felt odd and surreal. The experience of COVID-19 has allowed us to come together even more so as a team and show our collective strength and resilience.
PPE, masks and COVID regulations have impacted how we do things massively, from patient interaction to eating lunch things have changed. The social distancing guidelines resulted in us being more physically distant from each other in our office space as well as also impacted our weekly meetings, support time and communication. It has taken reorganisation, flexibility, understanding and patience to make new ways of working, some of which will stay for the foreseeable future and some of which we will gladly change when we can.
CAMHS have adopted a virtual way of working through Microsoft Teams and Near Me, online and telephone systems which have opened up communication at a whole new level. These developments have allowed us to remain connected and keep our patients and staff safe. We now use this technology as an integrated part of our working day, and it saves so much time on travel and encourages more attendance at meetings and events. As a result of this working effectively, we now, more than ever before, value the ability to see others face-to-face and meet in person, as we acknowledge there are some limitations to virtual meetings. As a team, we recognised the importance of looking after our own mental health and wellbeing. I now step away from computers for screen breaks, I have some outdoor time and the interaction with people face-to-face helps keep me balanced.