Mental health conditions are likely to affect almost half of the population at some stage in their lives. Despite the magnitude and potentially serious consequences of mental illness and disorders, access to services is a significant problem. In 2007, the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) was implemented to improve access to mental health care in Australia. Mental health nurses are engaged under the MHNIP to work with general practitioners, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals to treat clients experiencing a mental health condition. This paper presents findings from a qualitative exploration of nurses working under the MHNIP in Australia. In-depth interviews were conducted with 10 nurses currently working under the MHNIP to gain an understanding of their roles and their perceptions of the effectiveness of this new programme. Data were analysed using NVivo. Four major themes emerged: developing the role, a holistic approach, working collaboratively, and benefits to clients. The findings suggest that mental health nurses have the potential to make a significant contribution to enhancing access to, and the quality of, mental health care through flexible and innovative approaches.
- Client outcome
- Mental health care
- Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program