Informing the development of a fit-for-purpose mental health nursing curriculum: A survey of mental health nurse academics in Australia

Publication Name

International Journal of Mental Health Nursing


Inadequate mental health nursing content in pre-registration nursing curricula has been the topic of debate and concern since the introduction of comprehensive nursing education in Australia. Government-initiated inquiries and the efforts of mental health professional organizations and leaders have not successfully addressed this problem. The aim of the current study was to garner the perspectives and experiences of mental health nurse academics regarding the adequacy of mental health content in producing graduates able to work effectively in mental health settings and identify barriers and enablers to implementing and sustaining sufficient mental health content in pre-registration programs. A survey was distributed to mental health academics in Australian universities offering pre-registration nursing degrees. In total, 44 complete responses were included in the analysis. The results demonstrated the following: Most participants considered the current mental health content, theory and clinical hours insufficient to prepare graduates for practice in mental health settings. They reported a scarcity of tenured mental health nurse academics to deliver content effectively. Most participants were dissatisfied with the comprehensive approach to nurse education and preferred a double degree (nursing and mental health nursing), or a direct entry mental health nursing program. These findings provide further evidence for the current crisis in mental health nursing education and highlight the need for urgent action. People accessing health services have the right to receive high-quality care from appropriately qualified nurses. The inadequacy of mental health content in these programs effectively denies vulnerable people the standard of care and treatment they should be entitled to.

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