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Mental Health Nursing in Ireland: What Does the Future Hold?


Psychiatric nursing is a vocation: a demanding but highly rewarding role that offers care and solace to the most vulnerable and distressed people in society. The path of a psychiatrist nurse can be a challenging one, and only the most dedicated and highly skilled professionals are well-suited to it. Currently undergoing much needed reforms, the field of mental health in Ireland is going through a period of flux. We look at the role of nurses in this specialist discipline, the measures needed to support them, and the future of mental health nursing in Ireland.

The role of a psychiatric nurse

Psychiatric nurses are currently the largest profession working within the Irish mental health services. Over the last 10 years, the role of the nurse has grown considerably[1], particularly with respect of their clinical roles and responsibilities as the healthcare landscape continues to change and nurses are required to provide more responsive care. Underpinning the role of the psychiatrist nurses are the core values of a non-judgemental approach; trust; dignity; respect; the provision of choice; and the promotion of rights. Part of the essential function of these nurses is their partnership with the patient and their families or advocates to enable them to draw on their own inner resources, realising their own potential and capabilities.

Working daily with such high-support patients is unquestionably a challenging role, and nurses require crucial supports in order to carry out their duties to meet the needs of their patients. However, due to the many and varied challenges faced by the Irish health service, this area of nursing, as others, has suffered from a lack of funding, inadequate legislation, and unfulfilled targets.

A vision for change

Since the publication of the nation’s mental health policy A Vision for Change in 2006, our mental health services have been evolving in a more recovery and service-focused way. While many within the sector are critical that few of the proposed changes in that policy have been implemented ten years later, there has been a sustained focus on reforming mental health law and on re-defining supports for mental health nurses.

In 2015, former Minister for Mental Health & Disability Kathleen Lynch established a framework of recommendations with a view to bringing Irish mental health legislation in line with international standards. A new Mental Health Bill is currently progressing through the Oireachtas, which addresses the inadequacies and anomalies in the existing 2001 Mental Health Act and re-focuses on a more person-centred approach to treatment and care.

Support through clinical supervision

A Vision for Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing – a shared journey for mental healthcare in Ireland[2] outlines a number of recommendations to support the delivery of such a person centred, recovery-focused, quality and safe mental health service – chief among them, the provision of clinical supervision to all nurses. Published in April 2015, the Clinical Supervision Framework for Nursing Working in Mental Health was designed:

  • To provide support to mental health nurses for issues arising in their work
  • To enable nurses to grow, both individually and professionally
  • To provide a standardised structure for clinical supervision for all nurses

Implementing this core function across the mental health services is essential, not only to the improvement of clinical standards and enhanced patient care, but also to the “health” of the psychiatric nursing profession. Best practice guidelines suggest regular hourly review sessions at 4-6 week intervals with a suitably qualified supervisor, taking place in the workplace and recorded for future reference.

With such proper supports in place, those with a genuine calling to mental health nursing can look forward to developing their skills and career in a field where they can truly make a positive difference.

Take the next step with us

Want to know more about the current roles available for mental health nurses across Ireland? Contact a member of our expert Nursing Division today to discuss your future.

T: 1890 88 20 66 | E:


[2] Cusack, E. & Killoury, F., A Vision for Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing – a shared journey for mental health care in Ireland, 2012



Evelyn Moriarty, Content Specialist

Evelyn Moriarty is a Content Specialist at TTM Healthcare, based in at our Irish headquarters. Joining the company in 2016, Evelyn specialises in both on and offline content creation for the health and social care market.

Company Bio

TTM Healthcare is a specialist health and care recruitment company established by Brian Crowley in Ennis, Co. Clare in 2002.  Now recruiting highly skilled medical professionals from all over the world, TTM has offices in Ennis, Dublin and the UK. Selected as Ireland’s No 1 Healthcare Agency by the National Recruitment Federation, TTM is also the UK’s Recruiter Awards Public Sector Agency (2016) and Professional Services Agency of the Year (2016 & 2017), as well as a Gold Standard Deloitte Best Managed Company (2016 & 2017.)


Posted in: Ireland, Nursing, Recruitment