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2011, June 2nd, City University, London

SKELLERN LECTURE, Professor Patrick Callaghan - Is there a case for Mental Health Nursing in the 21st Century? 

Introduced by Neil Brimblecombe

Lecture Synopsis: This lecture will consider the case for mental health nursing in the 21st Century by examining arguments for and against mental health nursing drawn from my own, and others’ research.

I will argue the case for mental health nursing by presenting a manifesto for mental health nursing in the 21st Century that seeks change in practice, education, research and leadership. Central to the manifesto will be a vision for positive mental health nursing, an idea of mental health nursing as a movement. This movement is driven by a values-based, culture-based, evidence-based, collaborative, personalised care that embeds an expectation of mental health nursing as a fundamental human right. It is argued that that mental health nursing is a complex intervention containing several interacting components that, when applied to a particular population, generates an array of possible, variable and demonstrable outcomes. Such outcomes are recognised by those seeking mental health nursing care as crucial to leading lives that are meaningful and satisfying to them. Education articulates the knowledge and performance criteria that will deliver routinely, core competencies in the application of sound interpersonal skills, assessment of need, interventions that have been shown evidentially to meet needs, evaluation that needs have been met and the keeping of defensible practice records. Mental health nursing research will be based on a pragmatic science approach that shows clear clinical relevance and need, coupled with methodological rigour, translatable to practice. Leadership is evident at the point of care delivery and all layers of the systems within which mental health nursing operates. Leaders will inspire, support and secure mental health nursing and help create the conditions under which it will flourish. This is my case for mental health nursing in the 21st Century.     

JPMHN LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, Professor Peter Nolan (PhD, M.Ed., B.A.(Hons), B.Ed. (Hons), RMN, RGN, DN, RNT)

Introduced by Julie Repper

Peter Nolan was born in the West of Ireland and spent eight years in a monastery in Dublin before commencing psychiatric nurse training in September 1962 at Tooting Bec Hospital, followed by general nurse training at Mayday Hospital, Croydon.  Subsequently he was employed as a Staff Nurse in the Substance Abuse Unit at St. Thomas’s Hospital, London. This was followed by three years in medical and coronary care nursing in Libya and Egypt.


During this period, he also worked as a journalist and newsreader for the North African Radio Service based in Tripoli and as a Field Health Nurse in the Sahara with Mobil Oil.  On returning to the UK, he worked for nearly two years at Broadmoor Special Hospital, after which he held various management posts including that of Principal Nursing Officer at the Peace Memorial Hospital, Watford. Towards the end of the 1970s, he trained as a Nurse Tutor at Manchester University and subsequently taught aspects of mental health and general nursing in Preston, Gloucester and Bath.  Whilst pursuing his nursing career, he engaged in a personal educational programme which led to his gaining two Bachelor degrees from Manchester University (B.Ed (Hons) 1980) and (B.A.(Hons) 1982), a Master’s from Bristol University (Educational Psychology 1984) and a Ph.D from Bath University (History of British Psychiatric Nursing 1988).  In June 1986, he was invited to take up a position in the newly formed School of Health Sciences at Birmingham University and in 1997, he was appointed to a personal chair in Mental Health Nursing. While in Birmingham, he collaborated with colleagues from psychology, psychiatry, social work and general practice to improve access to mental health services and deliver good quality integrated mental health services in primary care settings.  In 2002, he was invited to take a newly created Professorial post between Staffordshire University and the then South Staffordshire Mental Health Trust. In this role, he led and supervised projects relating to the integration of CPNs into primary care teams, the evaluation of primary care-led mental health services, the implementation of Essence of Care, the experiences of service users in acute care settings and service users’ choice with respect to treatments.  Throughout his career, Peter has pursued key research areas:- the history of mental health services in the UK and Europe; the changing role of mental health nurses; the working environment of mental health care personnel; violence in health services; the emerging role of non-medical prescribers, and the role of mental health nurses in primary care. He has collaborated with colleagues from the UK, Europe and the USA. Currently, his interests focus on the role of mental health nurses post-reorganisation; the relationship between spirituality and health and the extent to which service users act as resources for each other. Peter has published his work in academic and professional journals and has also written on mental health issues for the press. He has published seven books, contributed to ten others and delivered numerous conference papers on a range of topics.  For nearly half a century, Peter has been a keen observer of and participant in many aspects of nursing and mental health care. He has held the position of Principal Nursing Officer, Principal Nurse Tutor and Professor of Mental Health Nursing, positions which have provided challenges, opportunities and insights. Among the innovations and contributions he has made over his career are: i) Devising and implementing an open-door policy in West Park Hospital, Epsom (1973), ii) Involvement of lecturers from Ewell Technical College in rehabilitation programmes at West Park Hospital (1972-1973), iii) initiating a multidisciplinary mental health group at Gloucester Royal Hospital (1980-2), iv) Founder member and facilitator for the Trailblazers Courses in the West Midlands (2000-2007) examining mental health in primary care, & v) Undertaking a history of mental health nursing in the UK and encouraging academic interest in the field.  Peter was a founder member of the Royal College of Nursing  Historical Society; a Trustee of the Bruce Burns Memorial Trust  (Mental Health Promotion in Birmingham); Visiting Research Fellow at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm (1994 – 2000) and Visiting Professor at Kentucky University (1998 – 2004).


Watch a short film which captures some of the higlights from the evening

The 2010 Skellern Lecture evening that was scheduled for Dec 2010 had to be postponed after London and the rest of the country ground to halt under a deluge of freezing snow.  The evening was re-scheduled for THURSDAY JUNE 2nd  2011, at City University, London.   This was the first time that the Skellern evening was held at City University and Professor Sally Hardy hosted and chaired the evening.  


Professor Patrick Callaghan was a formidable addition to the roster of Skellern lecturers.  His lecture took the provocative title; Is there a case for mental health nursing in the 21st Century?  In his lecture he realistically set out arguments both for and against MHN, but citing feedback from users, and noting evidence for efficacy in terms of managing risk, he demonstrated the on-going potential role for recovery focused MHN.  And while critically appraising the progress of the academy in pushing forward the quality of practitioners in terms of research and evidence, he called for more inspirational leadership, more translational education and more funding.  He finished with a rallying call that “ not everything that counts, can be counted”, arguing that MHN is a complex art and craft; capturing and conveying its essence was an on-going challenge for researchers.  


On the evening Professor Peter Nolan was also an award recipient.  His address on receiving the JPMHN Lifetime Achievement Award, was profound and moving.  He offered us an absorbing narrative about his journey towards wisdom.  He painted fine grain and memorable portraits of colleagues and clients along the way, full with love, humour and loss in equal measure.  At the end of his address he received a heartfelt standing ovation.  For those of us who have been attending the Skellern event since 1986, this was one of the most poignant moments we have so far witnessed. Peter Nolan captured the intimacy of witness that is ones career in the field of mental health, in a mad world we absorb and become memory of those whose lives we touch and in turn are touched by.  These are deep impressions, Peter showed us that they will linger on into the twilight.  

Short lists 2011  

Skellern Lecture: Patrick Callaghan, Mary Chambers 

Lifetime Award: Joe Berke, Kevin Gournay, Peter Nolan 

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