More mental health nurses urgently needed around the world

More mental health nurses urgently needed around the world

A “concerted effort” to recruit and retain mental health nurses all over the world is required to deal with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, nurse leaders have said.

The call for more mental health nurses follows publication of the World Mental Health Report from the World Health Organization (WHO) last week. This found that a global shortage of mental health nurses was preventing adequate care for millions of people around the world whose mental health was hit by the pandemic.

“The shortage of specialist mental health nurses is clearly an issue across the world”

Stephen Jones

The WHO reports that even before Covid-19, mental health systems and services in many countries were ill-equipped to meet people’s needs because of insufficient spending on mental health, and a lack of trained mental health professionals including mental health nurses.

Less than 2% of health budgets around the world are spent on mental health, while one in eight people are currently living with a mental health condition, and more than 70% of people with psychosis are not receiving any mental health treatment.

Nurses are a key component of the mental health workforce across rich and poor countries, making up 44% of the total number of specialist mental health workers worldwide. However, the majority of these nurses work in richer countries, with fewer than 5% currently working in low and lower-middle income countries.

The Covid-19 pandemic put these mental health systems under more pressure, with an estimated increase of more than 25% in both anxiety and depressive disorders during the first year of the pandemic, while at the same time mental health services have been disrupted, found the WHO.

The Royal College of Nursing professional lead for mental health nursing, Stephen Jones, said the report highlighted the “toll” the pandemic continued to have on people’s mental health and that investment was needed to ensure no one who needed care and treatment was left behind.

Addressing the workforce findings, he added: “The shortage of specialist mental health nurses is clearly an issue across the world.

“The world is witnessing increasing mental health needs, but this remains a shockingly underfunded area”

Howard Catton

“There must be a world-wide concerted effort, not only to recruit, but also to retain the experienced nurses who provide care and leadership to an ever-growing number of patients.”

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) also called for investment in mental health services and nurses.

Responding to the WHO report, ICN chief executive Howard Catton said: “The world is witnessing increasing mental health needs, but this remains a shockingly underfunded area.

“We believe that nurses are a major part of the solution to support mental health needs, and we call for a concerted effort and investment to address this mental health crisis.”

He added: “Mental health nurses are vital to improving access to professional mental health care which will not only improve the lives of millions but also have positive outcomes for the world.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.