A SENIOR nurse is encouraging more people to consider a career in mental health.

The appeal has gone out to mark the second annual Mental Health Nurses’ Day on Friday, February 21.

Steve Forsyth, director of nursing for Mental Health & Learning Disabilities at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), has 20 years of experience. He describes the profession as ‘more than just a job’ and a ‘way of life, an adventure and a privilege.’

BCUHB has a shortage of mental health nurses. About 20 per cent of vacancies unfilled.

Steve said: “We’re always looking to recruit outstanding people to join our teams. There are so many diverse opportunities across the region in inpatient settings and our community teams. These include working with people with mental health problems, learning disabilities, addiction and eating disorders.

“There are real opportunities for people to progress throughout their career and we offer a supportive environment which enables our nurses to continuously improve their skills and knowledge.

“The privilege of being a mental health nurse means that I’d do my twenty plus years again in a heartbeat.”

To mark Mental Health Nurses’ Day, staff across the region have been sharing what makes the profession so special.

Lyn Maclean, psychiatric liaison team manager at Glan Clwyd Hospital, said: “Having the ability, skills, knowledge and most importantly, the time to spend with individuals who require compassion, kindness and a listening ear in their time of need makes the role so special.

“A career in mental health nursing can be varied, allowing for many amazing opportunities in all aspects of mental health care.”

Poppi-Drew Hughes qualified as a mental health nurse in October 2019 and now works at the Ty Llywelyn Medium Secure Unit at Bryn y Neuadd Hospital, Llanfairfechan. Staff at the 25 bedded purpose built hospital provide treatment and rehabilitation for people with serious mental health problems who have come into contact with criminal justice services.

Poppi said: “You hear of a medium secure unit and you see high security fences and it can seem daunting from the outside, but it’s one of the safest environments to work in and we’re so well supported.

“It’s not like in a general hospital where someone might have a broken bone and you put a cast on and off you go. We have the time to get to know people and their background.”

Mental Health Nurses’ Day is an annual celebration to promote and celebrate the work of mental health nurses across the United Kingdom.

It forms part of BCUHB’s wider celebrations to mark the World Health Organisation designating 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

Mental Health Nursing degree courses are delivered by Bangor University, with students able to study at campuses in Bangor or Wrexham.

Unlike in England, people studying at Welsh Universities qualify for the NHS Wales nursing bursary, which means that fees are paid and living cost contributions may be available.

The Welsh Government have confirmed that the scheme will be extended to nurses beginning their studies in the 2020-21 academic year.