I Am Looking For

A Career in Mental Health

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Year 12 students at Bolton School Boys’ Division enjoyed a ‘World of Work’ insight into a career as a Mental Health Nurse when Harry Moulton, Class of 2006, joined their Form period remotely.

Harry, fresh from his night shift, spoke about his role as a Children’s Mental Health Nurse, working in an in-patient unit in Staffordshire. His focus, he said, was on trying to help young people, many of whom presented a range of self-harming behaviours including eating disorders and emotional issues.

Harry briefly recapped how, after leaving Bolton School, he had graduated from the universities of Liverpool and Salford and had taken up a management position in Higher Education. He told how he then decided to re-train as a Mental Health Nurse after realising he wanted a multi-faceted career where he could help people in the most challenging moments of their lives.

Talking about his work, Harry explained how no day is alike and that the role demands leadership and supervision skills from the very start. He said that having therapeutic skills is also really important, as is the ability to deal with lots of administrative tasks. Harry explained how there are not enough male nurses in a field where there are a lot of men with mental health problems. Your job, he pointed out, is always a talking point.

Harry explained to the Year 12 students how - when not working the night shift - a typical day begins at 7am with a thorough handover from the night staff. This is followed, he said, by the sorting of rotas for the day for a number of healthcare assistants that he oversees. He told how the first medication round begins at 8am and stressed the importance of ensuring each patient takes their prescribed drugs. The children enjoy a very therapeutic environment and attend an on-site school, Harry said and told how girls and boys regularly meet with psychologists, doctors, art therapists, activity workers and family therapists. He explained how nutrition is an important part of their day and this can be a traumatic event for anorexia nervosa patients and – in extreme cases – can involve feeding via an NG feed, something which can be distressing for the child. He told how he sees these moments as a challenge – are you listening to the patient and can you calm them? His work, he said, also demands a thick skin and perseverance – something which Harry said Bolton School had imbued in him.  When all else fails, he explained, giving them an injection – or what is known as rapid tranquilisation – is the last resort.

During the course of the day, he went on to explain, there will be lots of meetings to discuss treatment plans. Each patient has a multi-disciplinary team which can consist of parents, psychologists, doctors, teachers and therapists. Harry spoke about some of the admin that is involved, including the updating of care plans and risk assessments.

Harry described how he has responsibility for two patients in a named Nurse role and how it is important to build a good rapport. Again, he said, Bolton School had helped him build these critical communication skills. As the day draws to a close, he said it is then a case of making and passing on detailed notes about each patient.

Selling his job, Harry said, it is never boring and there are great career opportunities. He told how it is possible to work in a variety of fields as a mental health nurse, including in hospitals, in community work, in psychiatric units, with children, adults and dementia patients. In his line of work, Harry said, you will never be out of a job!

The session ended with Year 12 boys posing a number of questions, which led Harry to talk about how it is possible to get started in this field, how you can gain experience of working in different settings when you do your training, and how, at the end of the day, you need to prioritise your own mental health in order that you can help others.

Asked for his view on medicating children, Harry said he thought it can be vital but should not occur in insolation. Medication, he felt, should be combined with other treatments such as talking therapy. He said that the point of medication was to bring the symptoms under control in order that the patient can articulate their issues.  This way, other evidence-based interventions are more likely to succeed. 

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