#MHAW21: Being a mental health nurse

10 May 2021 . United Kingdom

As the effects of the pandemic continue, colleagues across Bupa continue to support customers, residents and patients. Caroline Harper, a Specialist Nurse Adviser in the Mental Health Nursing Team for Bupa UK, takes us through a typical day and reflects on some of her career highlights.

Caroline Harper

My alarm goes off... Around 7am. My alarm is my 20-week-old Miniature Dachshund called Dolly, wanting her breakfast! I have a cup of tea and a cuddle before having a quick shower and the shortest commute I've ever had, from my bedroom over the landing and into my office ready for 8am start.

I'm responsible for…Providing mental health support, advice and information to Bupa UK members who ring in. I also assess clinical reports for Mental Health treatment, advise the Mental Health Team of clinical pathways, work with wider Bupa teams to advise on appropriate treatment, support the clinical lead and support staff wellbeing.

A typical day looks like... No day is typical in mental health nursing, but I love the variety!

I got the job... After hearing about it from my friend, who was also a mental health nurse on the team. I have been qualified as a Registered Mental Nurse for 11 years and have worked across many clinical areas in the NHS including acute adult inpatient, drug and alcohol team, Community Mental Health Team, occupational health and crisis teams. My varied experience transfers perfectly to my role at Bupa and I love the diversity it brings.

The best part of my job...Making a difference to somebody who has lost hope and reminding them that they're not alone.

Seeing more and more people talk about Mental health has helped people become less frightened to get help and talk about what they are struggling with.

The most challenging part of the job... Hearing people struggle and lose hope for the future. Mental health conditions can be extremely hard and are something most of us will experience at some point.

My most memorable moment at work... It would have to be the recognition from my colleagues in the Mental Health Team, who voted for me to win an ‘Everyday Hero Award’ after a distressing call I took from a member. The award recognises staff members across Bupa who show outstanding dedication and passion for their role. As mental health nurses we don't always receive recognition for our work, so this was lovely to win.

My tips for positive wellbeing are...

  • Spend time outside listening to the birds, running water, and the peacefulness of nature
  • Do one thing for yourself every day
  • Remember tomorrow is a new day and a new start
  • If you feel overwhelmed by things, speak to a friend or partner, then make a list of 'things to do’ and tackle each task starting with the most important