I am writing this blog having just returned from Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, where I spent a hectic week in meetings and talks. This forms part of my visiting professorship with their National University of Medical Sciences, creating academic and other networks for grant applications to develop mental health services in Mongolia. The visit was supported by a grant from the European Social Research Council (ESRC) through their Impact Acceleration Accounts of which the University of Essex is one of only 24 university recipients in the UK. Last Wednesday I facilitated a workshop on mental health priorities in Mongolia, which included participants from clinical services, universities, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), government, users of mental health services and their families. There was a tangible desire for change in this group and development of community services was seen as a priority: Mongolia currently provides no mental health services outside hospital settings. I hope to work with the local agencies over the coming years to facilitate this change, learning from our experience in the UK and engaging UK colleagues in the process.
Nursing is a low status profession in Mongolia, and mental health nursing as a specialism doesn’t exist. Nurses and medics report that there is a stigma associated with working with people with mental disorders and recruitment to these roles is difficult, in line with other countries. We have many parallels and opportunities for learning, which I hope to explore in the course of several proposed training and research ventures- more information to come on these over the next months.
2017 has seen the publication of the Foundation of Nursing Studies’ review of Mental Health Nursing, which provides a useful synopsis of views of nurses and mental health service users throughout England, collated in the course of twitter events and facilitated workshops. The work is authored by Professor Tony Butterworth in a reflective and thorough fashion – I would recommend it:
NHS Improvement is leading the national programme to develop setting-specific safe, sustainable and productive staffing improvement resources. These resources are being released in stages, with that relating to mental health services open for comments up to Friday 28th April. I am involved in this work and encourage all to get their views heard on the output to date, which can be viewed here: https://improvement.nhs.uk/resources/safe-staffing-mental-health-services.
The next few months will be busy ones for me, with writing for publication, trying to get to grips with data from several completed research studies, and submitting further projects for research funding.