- learn about the conceptual framework Hodges' model. A tool that can help integrate HEALTH and SOCIAL CARE, INFORMATICS and EDUCATION. The model is situated, facilitates person-centredness, integrated - holistic care and reflective practice. A new site using Drupal is an ongoing aim - the creation of a reflective workbench. Email: h2cmng @ yahoo.co.uk Welcome

Monday, January 28, 2019

Book review: i Critical Mental Health Nursing: observations from the inside

If the book's title does not suggest the challenge to come then perhaps the editor's "Our apology" just might.

https://www.pccs-books.co.uk/products/critical-mental-health-nursing-observations-from-the-insideThe editors declare the limitations of their apology as mental health nurses (mhn) given the precariousness of life, the environmental situation, the power of global corporations and how the industrial-military complex can also affect and define the role and work of mental health nurses. It is clear, that for example, the past decade (at least) of mental health service provision and development has been impacted by political and socioeconomic trends. The reduced number of mental health beds; the subsequent phenomena of out of area referrals (that also redefine 'area'). This past month, commentators have pointed to the lack of a work-force plan that should precede NHS Long Term Plan.

From the start the vocabulary here is rings of 'anti-psychiatry' and seeks, if not redress, then redesign of formal mental health services. Anyone putting the book down at this stage would be doing themselves, patients, carers, health and social care and their own learning a great disservice. Clearly, it is not only that existing services are reductionist, invalidating, self-serving, drug-pushing and re-traumatising; but the editors stress it is how they are all too often experienced.


As a mental health nurse the introduction and apology gets to heart of the matter, if not the mind. All of what mhn's do is tinged with coercion; whether with people on locked wards or those in their own home. The list of what mental health nurses are party to is a long one and makes difficult reading: the detention and restraint of people and administration of antipsychotic depot medications. The profession hides behind the ethics of acting in a person's 'best interests'. The negative impact of this experience is not just limited to a vulnerable minority who are in most marked emotional distress, but others as the book attests. If this suggests a caveat, there are several, as I hope this review across several posts will reveal. That custard cream shared with a patient (person, householder, tenant, citizen...) in their home will never taste the same. So, more on that to follow and not just to address any sense of trivialisation, but the many caveats that apply.

The editor's frame their apology outlining the basis for mhn: as a profession, a university degree, codes of conduct and accountability. p.viii As a 'profession in our own right' the critical thinking we espouse (yes - here too) and are supposed to exercise has failed to question and counter the increase in detention and the assault on mental health services themselves. At one stage I believed there was some coherence to mental health policy development, but if it is there now - it is intangible in its quality. MHS have not developed progressively as might have been anticipated if not exactly predicted. As a new Community Psychiatric Nurse in 1985 I am now a 'Community Mental Health Nurse', what else might my colleagues and I have become? At the end of the day we may longer return to the hospital (Winwick, Eaves Lane, Ribbleton - all gone), but what are we returning to when we go back to the office, the base? There is an office move in this book; and the final chapter considers the profession's very title.

The editor's apology does not just set the scene, it places mhn and all practitioners on the stage - front and center. This RMN (SRN) (to be ageist for a moment) is all too aware that despite all the talk about the need for integrated, holistic, person-centred care they are, more often than not, still lacking. I've come to see these as 'legacy issues', but that is another 'book'?

The book itself has 260 pages in total. The cover of my (softback - as above) is a pleasing contemporary design. The mainly white cover is already a suffering grey as it's been on numerous trips. Thirteen chapters follow the apology and an introduction. There are notes on the editors and contributors. The print is an excellent size and the overall format easy on the eye. Even if lightly edited, the editors have done a good job as the chapters cohere. Two indices cover names and subjects and are sufficient. So with chapter 1 beckoning I was all-eyes and ready page turning...

Thanks to PCCS Books for my review copy.

Part ii

Part iii

Part iv


Bull, P., Gadsby, J., Williams, S. (Eds.) (2018) Critical Mental Health Nursing: observations from the inside, Monmouth: PCCS Books. ISBN 9781910919408