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The Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program : desirable knowledge, skills and attitudes from the perspective of nurses
Aim. To enhance the understanding of the skills and attitudes of mental health nurses working in the Australian Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program. Background. The Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program places qualified mental health nurses alongside community-based general practitioners, private psychiatric practices and other appropriate organisations to provide clients with mental health conditions with a more integrated treatment plan. Design. An exploratory, qualitative approach was undertaken, given the paucity of relevant research in this area. Methods. Exploratory individual interviews were conducted with ten mental health nurses working in this scheme. Data analysis was organised and managed using QSR NVivo qualitative analysis software. Results. Respondents identified specific skills and attitudes required for practice under the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program. Eight areas of skill and attitude were identified as essential for mental health nurses working in this field. This study highlights that many of these skills and attitudes are specific to the setting where mental health nurses are working. Conclusion. Mental health nurses working under this programme have a role to play in the dissemination of knowledge about their practice. More needs to be done by governments and other institutions to ensure that general practitioners and other health professionals understand the role played by mental health nurses in the provision of care. Relevance to clinical practice. The extent to which the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program becomes a sustainable strategy to promote quality and accessible mental health care will depend to some degree on the capacity to identify the skills and attitudes necessary for practice. The findings presented in this paper provide a significant contribution to articulating the essential characteristics required for this area of practice.